ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on Tuesday said those who had embezzled Rs83 billion of Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) were moving freely and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) could not spot them. He said this while heading a three-member bench of the apex court that heard a contempt of court case against former Ogra chairman Tauqir Sadiq.
Justice Iftikhar said Tauqir Sadiq deserves no leniency. He said a young investigation officer put everything on stake, but the NAB chairman did not want to act on the court’s order. The Supreme Court directed the NAB chairman to take stern action against those who were involved in the embezzlement of Rs83 billion of Ogra and submit a comprehensive report.
NAB’s Deputy Prosecutor General Fouzi and Investigation Officer Waqas appeared before the court on notice. During the hearing, the NAB submitted a report on the case, stating during the period of his chairmanship of Ogra, Tauqir Sadiq, a close relative of PPP leader Jehangir Badr, issued new licences to more than 500 CNG stations despite a ban and also granted approval for relocation of CNG and industrial stations.
According to the NAB report, Tauqir Sadiq and Mansoor Muzzafar, Ogra Member Gas, and Mir Kamal Marri, Ogra Member Finance, caused a loss of Rs44 billion to the national exchequer in the form of gas development surcharge.
NAB Investigation Officer Waqas apprised the bench that Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, who was then the chairman of the interview board being the federal minister for water and power, had forwarded the appointment documents of Tauqir Sadiq to the then prime minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, who gave the final approval to Tauqir’s appointment.
He said since the case had emerged, Tauqir Sadiq could not be arrested, adding the Ogra chief was continuously deceiving the authority who he said used to change location and contacts in Lahore.
Waqas said: “Tauqir Sadiq might have been protected by the Punjab government because currently he is stationed in the Punjab and still cannot be tracked.” The court adjourned the hearing till August 13.
The court was informed that Tauqir Sadiq had increased the benchmark of Un-Accounted for Gas (UFG) from 4.5 percent to 7 percent against the global practices without explaining the basis and rationale behind it, which resulted in irrational and unjustified benefits to gas companies.
The NAB official told the court that the NAB was further investigating as to what extent and quantum the involved accused person had gained pecuniary benefits.The NAB report stated Rs87.28 million damage was caused by the illegal stay orders in gas theft cases by Mansoor Muzzafar out of which Rs56.46 million were yet to be recovered.
The report added that an estimated loss of Rs22 billion was caused to the national kitty as the authority increased the wellhead gas price from $2.80 per mmbtu to $3.9 per mmbtu for the Dewan Petroleum Limited.
The NAB informed the court that Rs13.27 million were paid to lawyers in defending former Ogra chief Tauqir Sadiq in fake degree case whereas Rs0.85 million were paid to Makhdoom Ali Khan to represent Tauqir Sadiq before the Sindh High Court in the case.
During the proceedings, Chief Justice Iftikhar observed that a deal, which was processed within two hours, caused a loss of Rs36 billion to the national kitty. He said the former Ogra chairman issued a notification for the deal, which was forwarded to the Petroleum Ministry and the oil and gas tariff was upped by dollars per unit. Justice Khwaja said if this money was invested elsewhere, it would have improved the country’s economic and social situation.