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The government has placed the names of former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, former finance minister Miftah Ismail and others on Exit Control List (ECL) on the recommendation of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in connection with the liquefied natural gas (LNG) contract award case. An official source said the names of Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) chairperson Uzma Adil Khan, former MD Pakistan State Oil (PSO) Sheikh Imran-ul-Haq, Inter-State Gas Systems Private Limited (ISGS) MD Mobin Saulat, former Member OGRA Aamer Nasim and Shahid Islamuddin were also placed on no-fly list.

According to the notification issued by the Ministry of Interior, it has been decided to place names of Abbasi and others on the ECL under the section 2 of Exit from Pakistan (Control) Ordinance, 1981, on the recommendation of the NAB on the charge of misusing of authority or willfully failing to exercise his/her authority as under the section 9(a) 9 (vi) of the National Accountability Ordinance 1999 which causes loss to the exchequer as in the section 10(b) of NAO 1999 at serial 5 of schedule thereto. The amount involved in the case is Rs 36.959 billion.

Abbasi, who remained minister for petroleum in former prime minister Nawaz Sharif's tenure, had been accused of illegally awarding a 15-year contract for an LNG terminal. Ismail is also under investigation regarding the LNG scam. He has also appeared before the NAB's CIT for recording his statement and Bureau also handed over him a questionnaire.

The NAB on 2nd Jan last had converted an inquiry into investigation against Abbasi for alleged misuse of powers with respect to the LNG terminal project. The Supreme Court on Sep 10, 2018 had directed the NAB to complete inquiry into the matter and submit its report. The case was registered in 2015 at NAB Karachi on the complaint of Shahid Sattar, an energy expert, against Abbasi for awarding the LNG import contract which allegedly caused a huge loss to the national exchequer.

In Feb this year, the Supreme Court fixed a plea filed by President Awami Muslim League (AML) Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, seeking disqualification of Abbasi over his alleged corruption in the award of LNG import contract. The petition requested the Supreme Court to order the NAB to take action against Abbasi in this regard.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019

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