ISLAMABAD - The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has broadened the scope of its investigation into billions of rupees mega scam in the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) involving two former prime ministers, while Yousuf Raza Gilani did not appear before the bureau despite being summoned. Well-placed sources said the NAB would now interrogate democratically-elected incumbent and former premiers for progress in the investigation into multi-billion scandal.

According to the NAB report submitted in the Supreme Court – also available with TheNation -, although Gilani had been summoned to appear before Crime Investigation Team (CIT) of the NAB on August 15 over the appointment of former chairman of Ogra Tauqir Sadiq, he did not follow the instruction. “However, the case can be concluded on basis of statement of the appointing authority, the then prime minister,” the NAB report said.

Similarly, as the incumbent PM Raja Pervaiz Ashraf was the chairman of a selection committee that interviewed former Tauqir, queries raised on the subject were already sent to Raja yet no response received, while a reminder in this respect has also been now issued to him.

Sources in the NAB were of the opinion that as the Ogra former chairman was appointed by Gilani, therefore his appearance before the NAB would be a breakthrough. On the findings of appointment issue, the NAB report revealed that during the inquiry, statement of involved persons - the members of selection committee, officers and officials of Cabinet Division and Establishment Division - had been recorded. Regarding the Dewan Petroleum (Pvt) Ltd (DPL) cases of increase in wellhead price, the NAB report also disclosed that the Ogra had withdrawn the much-talked notification on 09-08-2012 regarding raised wellhead price of Salsabeel gas field and reverted back to the originally calculated price of $2.8/MMBTU on merit.

Besides, the Dewan Petroleum (Pvt) Ltd has also been asked to return the illegal gains derived during the grace period during date of issuance of the notification of raised wellhead price of Salsabeel gas field and the withdrawal of the same.

“In reply Dewan Petroleum (Pvt) Ltd contended that they did not obtain any pecuniary benefit on account of the said notification. Their reply is being examined,” the NAB report said.

Over the cases of Un-accounted for Gas (UfG) and conversion of operating into non-operating income, the NAB said permission was being sought from the NAB chairman to call the government functionaries for examination in the matters as had been deposed by the arrested accused Mansoor Muzaffar during interrogation while raising the UfG benchmark from 5 per cent to 7 per cent. Conversion of Operating income into Non-operating income has caused a loss of Rs 44 billion to public at large and national exchequer in the form of Gas Development Surcharge.

Regarding re-location of CNG/industrial station, the NAB has further said on August 8, a 24-hour notice have been issued to the owners to return the illegal gains derived from illegal relocation, which was entertained, illegally by Tauqir and Member Finance Mir Kamal Marri.

“Evidence has been collected regarding kick-backs/ commission. In case of non-compliance, warrants of arrest will be issued against the beneficiaries and officials of Ogra,” it added. The NAB report also said a letter had also been again sent to Punjab IGP August 9, requiring him to execute the warrants of Tauqir. In case of failure on his part, the IGP had been warned that the NAB would proceed against him and other officers concerned.

The NAB said in the report that the selection of Tauqir was tainted with gross procedural lapses and irregularities. “However, due to the death of focal person, a potential witness/accused Atta Muhammad Raja, acting secretary Cabinet Division at that time, had affected the case.

“Consequently, the main knowing about any influence and malafide has expired thereby breaking the chain of evidence and the possible linkages for establishing the case.”

“As Nargis Sethi, the then acting PS to PM, has vehemently denied influence on the Cabinet Division during the selection process. The same cannot be verified without the statement or corroboration of the deceased Atta Muhammad Raja.”

It is worth mentioning here that Ogra Registrar Muhammad Yasin had challenged the appointment of Tauqir and levelled allegations of misuse of authority and corruption and corrupt practices through a petition. Later, the Supreme Court directed the NAB chairman to inquire into the matter and submit report within 45 days, after which NAB present the report. Therefore, the NAB chairman authorised investigation into the alleged corruption and corrupt practices by the management of Ogra. However, the matter of Ogra chairman appointment was segregated from the offence of corruption.