ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary panel has chastised the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for reaching a plea bargain with people accused of oil theft in the country’s largest hydrocarbon explorer - Oil and Gas Development Company (OGDC) - after receiving just peanuts.
The National Assembly Standing Committee on Petroleum and Natural Resources, in a meeting chaired by Chaudhry Bilal Ahmed Virk on Monday, expressed serious concern over the deal with the accused involved in oil stealing.
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A NAB official updated the committee about progress in the case of diesel theft amounting to Rs328 million at the Tando Alam oil complex against Hussain Bux Narejo and others.
NAB Director Ahteeram Dar said the case had been pending in court since 2015. However, the government has received Rs45 million and six accused have struck plea bargain. Nine accused had been arrested during the course of investigation.
Petroleum and Natural Resources Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi expressed dissatisfaction over the plea bargain, saying the tool was used in the absence of concrete evidence.
Separately, an official of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) presented third inquiry report on crude oil theft from a field in Karak district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa with recommendation to refer the case to NAB for a comprehensive investigation. The committee, however, put off a decision on the request.
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The FIA official argued that 70 cases of oil theft had been registered by local police against unknown accused in Karak and Hangu since 2012 but no action could be taken against the culprits. The oil stealing started in 2012 and increased in 2015.
He said MOL company management did not register an FIR against stealing from 2014 to 2016, though 46 cases of theft in its premises were registered.
He pointed out that the oil pipeline was punctured 10 times, adding the FIA failed to get relevant information from the local police who refused to cooperate.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 28th, 2017.
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