Fight between SNGPL BoD and director reaches Energy Ministry

July 29, 2021

ISLAMABAD: In a rare move, the chairperson of SNGPL’s board of directors has brought into the notice of Energy Ministry the alleged questionable role of company’s director Ahmad Aqeel,...

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ISLAMABAD: In a rare move, the chairperson of SNGPL’s board of directors has brought into the notice of Energy Ministry the alleged questionable role of company’s director Ahmad Aqeel, who has emerged "as a saboteur" in all board proceedings just to save his skin in the ongoing probe into his Related Party Transactions (RPT).

In a letter written on July 15, 2021 by Ms Roohi Raees Khan, Chairperson of SNGPL board of directors (BoDs), to Federal Energy Minister Hammad Azhar, she mentioned that the Board Audit Committee (BAC) has made serious observations on the dealings of Director Ahmad Aqeel, who has been on the SNGPL Board for the last 10 years. He is a proxy holder of a large business group, and is a director on the boards of many companies of the said business group.

His Related Party Transactions (RPT) are being investigated by the BAC, despite much resistance within the SNGPL. A complaint for removal of Aqeel for disruption of board business, resisting investigations about his RPT by continuous sabotaging of BAC efforts, resorting to bypassing board and his uncouth behavior with the female director and Chairperson of the Board, has been lodged with the SECP on which action is still awaited. The chairperson also highlighted the output of SNGPL, saying the board appointed by the government in July 2020 has worked rigorously on reduction of Unaccounted For Gas (UFG) losses and set a direction for the management for 2020-2021, which resulted in substantial reduction in UFG and savings of Rs2.5 billion up to September 2020 (Ist Quarter), and expected to be much higher saving on an annual basis.

The letter also acknowledges the support of the KP government for providing full administrative support to the SNGPL after the first-ever board delegation visited, in the history of SNGPL for soliciting the KP’s support and holding the first-ever board meeting in 2020. And the board is fully cognizant of the goals of the prime minister to weed out corruption, bring transparency and stop bleeding of State Owned Enterprises.

The letter says that Ahmad Aqeel is a Director on the Board of SNGPL for the last 10 years with the proxy of a big business group. He was initially nominated by the PPP government on the SNGPL Board in 2011 and, thereafter, was elected to the board on the single strength of the business group, by getting proxies and as gathered from various reports, helped the group receive preferential treatment in the billing, load enhancements, contractual load violations and pressure factor manipulation, which are being investigated. He has deep roots within the SNGPL due to his continuous 10-year tenure on the board. Faced with such a situation, the board decided to initiate a formal investigation, through its Audit Committee, when complaints were received in relation to receiving preferential treatment in his Related Party Transactions (RPT), from general public, SNGPL staff and Petroleum Ministry.

In the first board meeting held on July 13, 2020, Aqeel made an unfair demand to be included as a member on all the five sub-committees of the board, in order to continue to wield power and influence the management. When the board declined his demand, he subsequently threatened the chairperson of the board that he would disrupt the board proceedings if his demands were not met. The chairperson took the matter on record and e-mailed to board, on July 18, 2020, five days within the first board meeting.

He has been disrupting and sabotaging the board meetings. Ahmad Aqeel’s disruption of the board and tarnishing the reputation of the board members with frivolous complaints has been taken on record in the board meeting of the company, A complaint was lodged by the board with the SECP in March 2021 because of his continuous disruption, threatening attitude and trying to halt an independent enquiry into his RPT. “It is on record that he has objected to the investigation,” the letter says.

Moreover, in order to halt the RPT investigation, Aqeel started to object, raised frivolous issues to distract the board, dissent on almost all important agendas to reform the SNGPL and run it efficiently while fulfilling the government’s socio economic agenda.

The letter also pointed out saying Aqeel coerced and threatened the company secretary and chief law officer. Due to his behavior, Naveed Kamran Baloch, ex-Federal Secretary Finance, who was then on the Board of SNGPL, directed an inquiry against Ahmad Aqeel. Later on, the complaints of the company secretary and law officer were filed with SECP.

Against the norms and board decision, according to the letter, he bypassed the board and approached the external auditors to influence the investigation into his RPT and other matters. This tantamount to sabotaging the board discipline and interfering with the investigation of RPT, ordered by the board.

For halting the probe into his RPT, the letter says, it was learnt that he pressured the Head of Internal Audit to an extent that he died due to heart attack. The complaint, received against Aqeel, on the above lines was also copied to the SECP, where it is pending so far. The same was also copied to the FIA and is under investigation. The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has also initiated an inquiry into the Related ‘Party Transactions, abuse of power, gas theft against Mr. Ahmad Aqeel and Business Group’. Meanwhile, Ahmad Aqeel, by virtue of his being on the SNGPL Board, is understood to be asserting his influence on the management to cause all possible hurdles including delay or incomplete information to halt the RPT enquiry. He has openly announced that many board members will come and go but he will always be on the board. This is a signal enough for the management to know where the power lies.

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