After a nearly two-year-long chase, the elusive former chief of the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra), Tauqeer Sadiq, was brought back to Pakistan and presented before an accountability court on Tuesday which, in turn, sent him on a 14-day physical remand.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) will now investigate Sadiq over Rs83 billion he and his accomplices allegedly embezzled during his tenure as Ogra chairman. A senior NAB official, however, said there were slim chances of the looted money being recovered from Sadiq.
Sadiq was formally handed over to a NAB team in Abu Dhabi on Monday, after a local court ordered his deportation from the Gulf state, where he had been in hiding for over a year. The former Ogra chief was brought back Tuesday morning and presented before the accountability court in Islamabad.
A court has already convicted Sadiq in the case and sentenced him to three years in jail. His appointment as Ogra chief was declared illegal in 2011 by the Supreme Court, after which he fled to Afghanistan and from there to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Before the accountability court, Sadiq denied all allegations and accused NAB officials of pressurising and torturing him. “They are trying to extract statements from me and want me to name President Asif Ali Zardari as an accomplice in the alleged corruption scandal,” he alleged.
The NAB investigating officer denied Sadiq’s accusations. The court ordered an immediate medical check-up to ascertain if Sadiq was tortured. But medics at the Poly Clinic Hospital declared him physically fit.
Investigations for the recovery of Rs83 billion will begin on Wednesday, but officials have no high hopes. “Only some money would be recoverable from individuals, while the remaining amount will stay with the gas companies that paid the money,” said the senior NAB official who spoke to The Express Tribune.
However, he added that 17% of around Rs 44 billion the bureau would recover would go to the national exchequer.
The official denied Sadiq had disclosed the names of people who had ordered or helped him during and after the corruption scandal. Former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani was summoned by NAB investigators on July 2, 2013 but he didn’t show up.
Sadiq was accused of misconduct and corruption in the award of licences for CNG stations. According to the prosecution, Sadiq and co-accused had issued 306 licences for new CNG stations during the fiscal 2009-10 and 170 licences in 2010-11 flouting a 2008 government ban.
The NAB official said the bureau had earlier submitted an interim reference before the accountability court. The final reference will be submitted after completing the ongoing investigations, he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 10th, 2013.