ISLAMABAD: Authorities in Islamabad are highly concerned over news reports of kickbacks and bribes in the $6 billion liquefied natural gas (LNG) scandal in Nigeria and a lawsuit against former US vice-president Dick Cheney, because some quarters are interested in awarding a $20 billion LNG contract to the same consortium led by the Carlyle group owned by Cheney, reliable sources told The Express Tribune.
The consortium also includes a company owned by a cousin of French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Highly-placed sources said that authorities concerned are seriously considering the likelihood of bribes and kickbacks in the multi-billion-dollar contract, which the petroleum ministry is insistent on awarding to a French company which did not even take part in the bidding process.
Interestingly, kickbacks amounting to $180 million were said to have been paid in the Nigerian deal.
However, the law ministry is strictly opposing assigning this contract to the said company with a bad reputation.
Former US presidents – elder and younger Bush – are also partners in the consortium.
The Economic Coordination Committee of the cabinet will take a final decision on the deal next week. A decision is being awaited since April this year. The law ministry wants this contract to be awarded in a transparent manner. On the other hand, authorities in the ministry of petroleum have been dispatching the same summary for the past nine months.
Earlier, the summary could not be approved after the intervention of the Supreme Court when the then finance minister Shaukat Tareen wrote a letter to the apex court, complaining that the petroleum ministry had tried to deceive him on this matter.
The start of the litigation process against Dick Cheney’s company in Nigeria is supporting the idea that since it bribes the authorities all over the world, it is impossible for authorities in Pakistan to have foregone lucrative offers of substantial kickbacks.
A government functionary wondered if $180 million were paid in kickbacks in the $6 billion contract, how much would have been offered in lieu of the $20 billion contract.
The Carlyle group also seems to be interested in securing the deal with the active support of some elements in the petroleum ministry.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 26th, 2010.
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