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Pak’s interim PM nominee faces corruption charges

The ruling PML-N party’s interim prime minister nominee Shahid Khaqan Abbasi is facing a Rs 220 billion corruption inquiry by Pakistan’s National Accountability Bureau over an LNG contract, according to a media report. Abbasi, the former minister for petroleum and natural resources, is the principal accused in a National Accountability Bureau (NAB) case registered in 2015 over the award of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) import contract, Dawn News reported. Other suspects in the case include former petroleum secretary Abid Saeed, Inter State Gas Systems (ISGS) managing director Mobin Saulut, private firm Engro’s chief executive officer Emranul Haq and the Sui Southern Gas Company’s (SSGC) ex-MD Zuhair Ahmed Siddiqui, the report said. Abbasi is expected to be elected as the new prime minister by Pakistan’s Parliament tomorrow, replacing ousted premier Nawaz Sharif. The Supreme Court on Friday disqualified 67-year-old Sharif for dishonesty and ruled that corruption cases be filed against him and his children over the Panama Papers scandal, forcing the embattled leader out of office. After Sharif’s disqualification, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) nominated Abbasi as its candidate for the prime minister’s post for an interim period before Punjab Chief Minister and Nawaz’s brother Shehbaz Sharif replaces him for the remaining 10 months of the government’s term. According to NAB documents, the contract for the LNG import and distribution was awarded to the Elengy Terminal, a subsidiary of Engro, in 2013 in violation of the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules and relevant laws. The bureau registered the case on July 29, 2015, but it is still in the inquiry stage, contrary to NAB Chairman Qamar Zaman Chaudhry’s claim that he has introduced a new strategy under which the process of complaint verification, inquiry, investigation and filing of reference takes 10 months, the report said.


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