The arrest of a Lahore-based businessman by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) about 8 weeks ago has caused delay in foreign exchange of $240 million at the liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry, say industry players. Ahmed owns Pakistan GasPort Limited (PGPL) which is a major shareholder at the second LNG terminal operating at Port Qasim.
Apart from that, Geneva-based oil and gas trading business Trafigura will put $140 million in to the terminal project along side provision of a credit line of over $1 billion for its export and sale of LNG. “Pakistan desperately needs energy solutions and foreign investment to encourage other investors nevertheless the arrest has delayed the procedure,” remarked an industry player.Industry people explain that the NAB chairman had stated that no businessman would be called to work of this anti-corruption watchdog and instead a questionnaire will be sent .
In early October, NAB released a new standard operating procedure (SOP) regarding vacationers, that comprised the notice to be issued to the accused. The note will give details and reasons for the accusation and search a written reply.If the reply is found unsatisfactory or needs further explanation, a questionnaire will be transmitted to the accused.
The NAB regional director general will examine the answer to each question and when found unsatisfactory, the businessman is going to undoubtedly be summoned as per law and the SOP.Industry sources emphasised that businessmen must really be treated according to this established SOP at a bid to regenerate confidence of the small business community.
When asked to comment on Ahmed’s arrest, a NAB spokesperson said the matter was sub judice in the court of law where they were presenting their perspective.
After hearing views of NAB and the accused, the accountability court had shipped Ahmed on remand, he said.”As far as NAB is concerned, we always believe in conducting inquiries and investigations as per law and after the arrest of an accused, we present him in the accountability court,” the spokesperson said.”At the courtroom, we not just present the reasons on which the accused has been arrested but also seek his remand for additional investigation as per law. The accused also has the right to show his case in the court of law”