NAB arrests ex-PM Abbasi in LNG case

Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was arrested by a 12-member National Accountability Bureau (NAB) team in a multi-billion-rupee case related to the award of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) import contract.

According to media, Abbasi was on his way to attend a press conference, accompanied by PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal, when he was arrested on the Thokar Niaz Beg interchange.

Abbasi was initially resisting the arrest but eventually conceded.

As per procedure, he is expected to be presented before an accountability court for physical remand tomorrow. A medical team will conduct an examination.

In a post shared on Twitter, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif condemned Abbasi’s arrest.

NAB had summoned the former premier in the LNG case today but he did not appear before the bureau. According to the team investigating Abbasi, the former premier had only answered 20 out of the 75 questions he was asked. They said that despite giving him time, Abbasi had continually asked for more time.

“You are requested to appear on 18-07-2019 at 10am at NAB Islamabad before Investigation Officer Malik Zubair Ahmed, deputy director, for discussion and recording your statement being minister of petroleum and natural resources on LNG terminal,” said the NAB notice that was served to Abbasi. “You are advised that failing with this notice may entail penal consequences as provided in serial 2 of the schedule of the National Accountability Ordinance 1999.”

The notice said the competent authority has taken cognizance of an offence committed by Abbasi under the provision of NAO 1999 on allegations of “deceitfully, fraudulently and dishonestly causing a loss to the national exchequer, misuse of authority, and obtaining pecuniary advantage through corrupt, dishonest and illegal means during the award of LNG Terminal-1. […] The investigations have revealed that you [Abbasi] are in possession of information/evidence regarding award of LNG Terminal-1 to M/s EETPT [a private firm] etc which relates to the commission of the said offence.”

In April, the government imposed a travel ban on Abbasi, former finance minister Miftah Ismail, and five other persons in the same case. According to an earlier notification, the amount involved in the case was Rs36.969 billion.