The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has filed a reference against former prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf after collecting evidence against him of giving undue favours to contractors in the 50MW Naudero-II Rental Power Project (RPP) during his stint at the ministry of water and power.
After Chairman Qamar Zaman Chaudhry’s approval, the bureau filed a 263-page supplementary reference against Ashraf and nine other accused in the Rawalpindi Accountability Court on Wednesday. The court has summoned Ashraf on November 19.
“All evidence points to Ashraf giving undue favours with criminal intent to the contractors… [and] willfully approving the project that was destined to fail and inflict heavy losses upon the public exchequer,” states the reference.
An interim reference in the Naudero-II RPP case had already been filed to the accountability court. Following the submission of the supplementary reference, the number of accused in the case now stands at 10.
The names of two alleged principal beneficiaries in the case – energy tycoon Iqbal Z Ahmed and MN Baig – could not be included in the supplementary reference after they obtained a restraining order from the Lahore High Court just two days before it was filed.
The court, on November 4, barred NAB from taking any coercive action against Ahmed and Baig. According to NAB officials, the only way they can file a reference against the two is if the LHC vacates the restraining order.
The NAB Executive Board decided to file the reference against Ashraf in a meeting last week. According to sources, the board had also decided to include the names of Ahmed and Baig in the reference but was prevented from doing so following the LHC order. NAB investigators discovered Ahmed, who was a sponsor of the Naudero-II project, did not make his voluntary return (VR) properly, they told The Express Tribune.
Based in Naudero, Sindh, the contract for this RPP was awarded on March 4, 2010 in violation of the PPRA rules. Ashraf, who was then serving as the federal minister for water and power, approved the project which NAB investigations determined was ‘unfeasible and unsolicited’.
Other figures accused in the case included former minister for finance Shaukat Tareen and former water and power secretary Shahid Rafi.
The total liability of the project, worked out by the ministry of water and power, is $47.76 million. The balance liability after ‘voluntary return’ (VR) by the accused stands at $106,630.
It should be noted that the Supreme Court has already recovered around $11 million in advance payments. NAB, meanwhile, has recovered around Rs5 billion in all RPP cases.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 7th, 2013.
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