An accountability court in Islamabad extended on Monday the judicial remand of former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and former finance minister Miftah Ismail by 20 days in the LNG terminal corruption case.
The National Accountability Bureau had filed the reference against Abbasi, Ismail and eight others on December 3.
It states that the company, which was awarded the contract for construction of an LNG terminal, gained profits worth Rs21 billion from March 2015 to September 2019, while the national treasury incurred losses worth Rs47 billion.
Former managing directors of PSO Sheikh Imranul Haq and Shahid M Islam have been named in the case. Port Qasim Authority former chairperson Agha Jan Akhtar, former OGRA chairperson Saeed Ahmed Khan, former OGRA member Aamir Naseem and authority’s current chairperson Uzma Adil Khan have been named in the reference too.
On Monday, the court conducted the first hearing since NAB filed a reference in the case. Abbasi, Ismail and former PSO MD Haq appeared before the court.
During the hearing, Judge Azam Khan inquired where the other accused individuals were.
The defence counsel informed that neither NAB had apprehended other accused, nor had it sent them any notices.
The court issued notices to all the accused individuals, directing they appear before it at the next hearing on January 6.
Speaking to the media outside the court, Abbasi strongly criticised the government and said the case against him had “no substance”.
Abbasi and Ismail were arrested four months ago for investigation in the case. A travel ban was imposed on them in April 2019. NAB in its notice to Abbasi accused him of misusing his authority and “deceitfully, fraudulently and dishonestly” causing loss to the national exchequer while awarding the contract for LNG terminal-1.
The former PM has been accused of illegally awarding a 15-year contract for an LNG terminal while he was serving as the petroleum minister in Nawaz Sharif’s cabinet. The case was reopened in 2018 after being closed in 2016.
NAB claims the government rented out a terminal of the Engro Group for 15 years at a cost of Rs27 million per day.
Abbasi, on the other hand, denies charges against him.