Multi-billion rupee fugitive paid Rs 1,000 bribe to flee Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s top accountability body on Friday revealed how a former oil and gas chief allegedly involved in a multi-billion rupee scam, had escaped the country to avoid arrest.

Tauqir Sadiq, the former chairman of the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA), had fled to the UAE in 2012 after the Supreme Court declared his appointment as Ogra chief illegal. According to the spokesperson of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the inquiry into the matter as to how Tauqir Sadiq was able to escape from Pakistan was carried out by one of the senior-most directors-general (DGs) of the bureau.

Sadiq, who is accused of being involved in the Rs82 billion Ogra embezzlement case, was brought back to Pakistan from UAE on Monday night. An accountability court in Islamabad has sent the former Ogra chief to a 14-day physical remand.

“During the interrogation, Tauqir Sadiq provided many details of his escape, including the fact that he paid Rs. 1000/- as bribe to an Afghan official at Kabul airport,” said the official. Sadiq had managed to leave the country although his name was on the exit control list.

A local newspaper had reported that the former Ogra chief had to bribe a border guard at Pakistan’s Torkham border with Afghanistan. The NAB official, however, clarified that, as per the bureau’s investigation, Sadiq bribed officials at Kabul airport, and “not at Torkham, as reported in the media.”

During interrogation, Sadiq disclosed that he first travelled to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province from where he fled to Afghanistan before finally heading to the UAE, said NAB sources.

However, the NAB official said Sadiq did not name any individual for having assisted him in his escape.

Sources in the bureau said Sadiq acquired a visa for Dubai in Rs 10,000, while he had to pay only Rs 1,000 to get his passport stamped to travel to Afghanistan.

The sources added that Pakistani foreign office officials were in the process of communicating with their Afghan counterparts to verify Sadiq’s testimony.

Meanwhile, dispelling the impression that Sadiq had revealed the names of some former ministers and officials aiding him in his flight, the NAB official said appropriate legal action would be taken when such disclosures are made.

“When individuals responsible on helping him escape have been identified, action will be initiated by NAB in accordance with the law,” he said.

Sadiq is accused of misusing authority, embezzling funds and causing Rs82 billion (approximately $850 million) losses to the national exchequer by converting operating income (regular income) into non-operating income in violation of an agreement signed with the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank, relocating several CNG stations, making illegal appointments, etc.

Two former prime ministers — Yousuf Raza Gilani and Raja Pervez Ashraf — have also been accused of being involved in the ‘illegal’ appointment of Sadiq.

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usman hashmi

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