Monday November 28, 2022

Fury witnessed in SNGPL BoD meeting: Procurement scam of up to Rs450m without nod from BoD unearthed

May 05, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Verbal fury was witnessed on Saturday during the session of Board of Directors (BoD) of Sui Northern Gas Private Limited (SNGPL) on various issues, including the scam of procurement limit up to Rs450 million without any nod from BoD, non-declaration of blood relation between two private directors, conflict of interest of one director for providing legal services through his legal firm, slashing down the number of directors of the company and giving mandate to fact-finding committee to complete the probe against acting managing director and deputy managing director by May 18.

Fighting the case against ‘illegal’ procurement up to Rs450 million without the approval of BoD, ‘M/s Minto and Mirza’ had charged Rs140 million. The News also included the detailed version of Mirza Mehmood Ahmad, who headed the finance and procurement (F&P) committee of SNGPL and being director of the company, he also provided legal services through his own legal firm. He told ‘The News’ that the blood relation issue was taken up after another director namely Mustafa Ahmad Khan was identified as relative.

However, the BoD meeting headed by Rohi R. Khan had decided to cut down the number of directors from 14 to 12, following the austerity measures launched by Prime Minister Imran Khan. The meeting also asked the management to provide procurement record of finance and procurement (F&P) committee for the last 10 years to look into the possible scam for procuring various items up to Rs450 million without the approval of BoD, officials sources told The News.

"The BoD has also authorised a three-member fact finding committee, headed by Additional Secretary Muhammad Ayub Chaudhry allowing to extend by two weeks more up to May 18 to complete the probe and out the charge sheet against any case of nepotism, corruption and dual nationality, especially the cases given by PM’s office, including probe against Acting Managing Director Amir Tufail and Deputy Managing Director Suhail Gulzar."

The BoD also authorised the fact-finding committee to make its own ToRs (terms of reference) with regard to getting the record and information from the required sources to complete the probe. In the meeting, head of the fact-finding committee told the BoD that on April 11, 2020, the BoD had assigned the committee to complete the probe within two weeks but it could not make it due to non-cooperation of the top management of SNGPL. To this effect on April 17, the Petroleum Division had written a letter to the managing director SNGPL to provide all records and information about alleged corruption during his tenure.

Spokesman of Petroleum Division said the ministry using its prerogative appointed joint secretary admin Qazi Sajid as director in place of Qazi Saleem. He said there was no need of the approval from the cabinet as it had already given blanket approval against the numbers of government directors in the SNGPL. He also mentioned that Qazi Saleem was DG Gas, when he was appointed as director in BoD, who was later made DGPC but he continued to perform as director too, so the objection of the private member carried no weight.

To a question, he said in place of Dilawar Abbas, former chairman, who has died, the cabinet had approved the name of Shabbir Hussain Hashmi as director. Talking about slashing the number of directors in SNGPL from 14 to 12, Mirza Mehmood said the decision was not up to the mark as instead of increasing the number of directors, the BoD has reduced the numbers to 12. He argued that the number of directors in SNGPL was 14 for the last 60 years. He said the size of the company has increased by 30 percent and its sale has swelled up to Rs500 billion from Rs250 billion per annum. He also said the network of pipelines of SNGPL has also increased to 125,000 kilometers from 100,000 kilometers and more importantly the number of consumers have soared up to 6.7 million from 4.7 million and the receivables of the company have also summed up to Rs400 billion from Rs70 billion and payables to Rs375 billion from Rs90 billion.

Mirza Mehmood said when the business of the company has increased manifold, the reduction of number of directors was incomprehensible, saying that amid Covid-19 spread, it would be difficult for the people like him to arrange the proxies for becoming the director of the company for another term as meeting with different stakeholders would be difficult for the next elections due to countrywide lockdown.

He said with the decision of the government, the minority directors would not be encouraged while law suggested a representation from the minority.