KARACHI: An accountability court on Wednesday indicted former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, former petroleum secretary Arshad Mirza and two others in a reference about alleged illegal appointments to two key posts in the Pakistan State Oil (PSO).
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had filed the reference in March against Mr Abbasi of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Mr Mirza for allegedly misusing their authority in appointments of Sheikh Imranul Haq as managing director and Yaqoob Sattar as deputy managing director (finance) of the PSO in violation of rules and regulations for appointments of chief executive officers in public sector enterprises.
The judge of accountability court-II, Aalyia Latif Unnar, read out the charges against Mr Abbasi, Mr Mirza and both former senior officials of the PSO. However, the accused pleaded not guilty and opted to contest the charges The judge summoned prosecution witnesses to record their testimonies on Aug 27. The former prime minister and other accused persons have obtained interim pre-arrest bail from the Sindh High Court.
The anti-graft watchdog has alleged in the reference that Mr Abbasi, when he was minister for petroleum and natural resources, and the then petroleum secretary had misused their authority while appointing the MD and the deputy managing director (finance) of the PSO.
It has maintained that the Supreme Court while hearing a case in July 2018 had ordered NAB to investigate the appointment of both officials of the PSO. Later, an inquiry report was submitted to the apex court which said evidence showed that the appointment of Mr Haq was illegal and had not been made in a transparent manner. The report further said that there was evidence that Mr Haq had a conflict of interest with the PSO due to an LNG agreement with his former employer (Engro Corporation).
NAB has accused Mr Haq of having misused his authority by promoting Mr Sattar to the post of deputy managing director within a month of his joining the PSO.
It has claimed that the accused persons had caused losses to the tune of Rs138.96 million to the national exchequer and allegedly committed offences punishable under Sections 9(a), (4), (6) and (12) of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999.
During an earlier hearing, Mr Abbasi and the former petroleum secretary through their counsel Khawaja Naveed Ahmed had moved an application seeking exemption from appearance in the trial court which is likely to take up the application for hearing on Aug 27.