The former president of Hyderabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (HCCI) Seth Goharullah and five others have been convicted for selling coal meant for use as fuel for the power generation in the open market for more than a decade.
Accountability Court No1 Judge Abdul Ghani Soomro, Karachi, on Wednesday sentenced Goharullah to seven-year imprisonment and payment of Rs500 million fine, failing which he will have to undergo a further period of two-year jail term.
"... in connivance with his partners the accused extracted and sold hundreds of thousands of tons of coal in the open market under the garb of the permission which was only for sale of surplus coal and that too till the functioning of the power plant," the order reads.
The Fateh Textile Mills Limited's director Muhammad Saleem and general manager Hamid Mehmood Nasir besides three officials of Fateh Mines Group, Hafeez-ur-Rehman, Shakeel Ahmed and Haji Abdul Razzik have also been convicted.
The former officials have been sentenced to four-year imprisonment and Rs5 million fine on each and the latter with five years jail term and Rs10 million fine on each.
All of them were on bail before the court order.
Goharullah was arrested from Karachi after his conviction. Goharullah has been compensated for his imprisonment for less than eight months from August 19, 2016, to April 8, 2017, which he spent in the custody of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in the same case.
The Pakistan Peoples Party's MPA Faqirdad Khoso, retired bureaucrat Sohail Akbar Shah and Abdul Rasheed Solangi have been acquitted from the charges leveled in the same reference by the NAB.
The FTML was granted a mining lease in respect of a compact block of 8,626 acres in Lakhra Coalfield in Jamshoro district, along the Indus Highway.
As per the memorandum of understanding signed on April 15, 2005, and May 17, 2005, as well as the lease deed dated August 22, 2006, the company was under obligation to set up a washing plant within two years of the agreement and the coal plant in five years.
The NAB filed an FIR against Goharullah in May, 2016.
The same year a drama unfolded when a team of NAB attempted to arrest Goharullah from the office of HCCI but he escaped on a motorbike through the streets of Saddar to prevent his capture.
However, he could not elude the bureau for long and he was rounded on August 19 that year.
Background The Fateh Group was awarded a contract to build a 200 megawatt power plant powered by coal.
Although the plant was never established, the company allegedly began to mine between 800 and 1,000 tons of coal every day and sold it in the market.
Since 2011, the mines and minerals department tried to get back the land from Goharullah but he continued to retain control allegedly with the political backing.
Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto reserved around 16,000 acres in Lakhra, also called Jamshoro Khanot Coal Mines, for the coal-fired plants in 1990.
After approval by the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC) a semi government company named Lakhra Coal Development Company (LCDC) was formed with 75% share of two federal departments and 25% of the Sindh government.
The LCDC was given 8,000 acres for its operation while the rest of the land was supposed to be given to a private company for the identical work.
Smith Associate Power and Mining Company was given the remaining piece of land in 1995 but later the contract was revoked. During Gen Pervez Musharraf's regime the Fateh group was given a contract of the same land.
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