Accountability Court Gives Shahid Khaqan Abbasi Clean Chit In LNG Terminal Case

The accountability court announced the judgment on a plea filed by NAB seeking the withdrawal of its reference against the former premier.

Accountability Court Gives Shahid Khaqan Abbasi Clean Chit In LNG Terminal Case

Former premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and other accused in the LNG terminal case were acquitted on Tuesday by an accountability court in Islamabad.

The move was made in response to the National Accountability Bureau's (NAB) decision to revoke its complaint against Abbasi. 

Today's hearing was presided over by Judge Nasir Javed Rana of the Accountability Court. Abbasi was in court with his attorneys as well. 

The NAB petitioned the court to have its referral against the former prime minister withdrawn, and the court delivered its decision during the hearing. 

The court was informed by Deputy Prosecutor Azhar Maqbool that the accountability bureau is rescinding the referral against Abbasi.

As the minister of petroleum and natural resources in 2013, Abbasi was accused of corruption when he awarded a multibillion-rupee LNG import deal. This led the NAB to arrest him in 2019. 

A further reference against Abbasi, his son Abdullah Khaqan Abbasi, former finance minister Miftah Ismail, former SSGC Board chairman, former CEO of EETPL and MD of PSO, former chairman of Port Qasim Authority (PQA) Agha Jan Akhtar, former OGRA chairman Saeed Ahmed Khan, former OGRA member Aamir Naseem, Uzma, former MD of Pakistan State Oil (PSO) Shahid M Islam, and others were approved on July 28, 2020, by the chairman of the NAB. 

The accused was said to have obtained the LNG Terminal-1 contract through a non-transparent method.

The public office holders were accused of abusing their positions in active coordination with one another to provide EETL/ETPL/ECL with wrongful gains of Rs 14.146 billion in relation to EETL's LNG Terminal 1. They were also accused of causing a wrongful loss of roughly Rs7.438 billion by failing to use the second LNG terminal's unused capacity between March 2015 and September 2019. 

As a result, the entire obligation is expected to be Rs21.584 billion through September 2019. 

It is important to note that because the aforementioned contract expires on March 20, 2029, more losses will be sustained over the next ten years, totaling nearly Rs47 billion.

During the time frame when the aforementioned LNG terminal contract was reached, Abdullah Abbasi's bank accounts received unexplained deposits of Rs1.426 billion and Rs1.294 billion between 2013 and 2017. 

The reference states that the accused further committed the crime of money laundering by hiding the source of the previously indicated deposits and stacking. 

An accountability court that determined there was never a dispute about lack of openness in the LNG terminal case awarded Abbasi bail in 2021. 

The accountability watchdog's case is not predicated on whether or not the former petroleum minister received financial gain, as the court stated in its detailed judgment on the bail.

"The question of whether the LNG terminal case involved transparency or not was not contentious. The court declared that the LNG terminal was approved by the authorized forum. 

The Court said that additional investigation is required to determine whether or not the LNG terminal was established in the public interest. 

The court declared, "NAB has not been able to prove why Shahid Khaqan Abbasi needs to remain in jail."