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Saturday Apr 10 2021

Criminal proceedings to be initiated against elements involved in petrol crisis: sources

A worker holds a fuel nozzle at a petrol pump. — Reuters/File

  • Cases to be filed against officials from OGRA, Petroleum Division.
  • Action to be taken against illegal joint ventures.
  • Monitoring cell to be set up in Petroleum Division.

The federal cabinet Saturday approved to file criminal cases against people involved in causing a petrol crisis last year, sources familiar with the matter said.

Sources said officials from the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA), Petroleum Division, and people from the oil marketing companies would be named in the cases.

The cabinet's committee probing the matter has directed to set up a monitoring cell in the Petroleum Division.

It further recommended the government stopped relying on the data from the advisory committee and advised it establish a new testing lab.

The committee ordered action against officials who had issued temporary licenses to oil marketing companies. 

According to sources, action will also be taken against illegal joint ventures and the setting up of illegal private storages.

The law will also come into effect against people involved in delayed berthing of oil ships.

Nadeem Babar asked to step down

Last month, Prime Minister Imran Khan had asked Nadeem Babar to step down from his portfolio as special assistant, following recommendations from the committee.

Asad Umar, addressing a presser last month, spoke of a key allegation in the oil crisis report regarding delayed berthing of an oil ship so that when new rates are notified, the product could be sold at a higher rate.

"A forensic investigation and pinpointing in this also needs to be done to ascertain who was responsible," Umar had said.

He said illegal sales will also be covered in the forensic audit.

"Action will not only be limited to fines. [But we will ensure] people are handcuffed and sent to jail."

The minister had further said that although oil retail companies and fuel stations will be probed in the forensic audit, it must also investigate which government officials facilitated such criminal acts.

"The Petroleum Division will be investigated, as well as OGRA, Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Port Authority," for all the illegal, aforementioned acts, Umar had said.

He had added that overall improvements in the Petroleum Division, which must be made, have also been identified and will be sent to them for them to make an action plan.

The plan will be shared with the Cabinet Committee on Energy and then with the Cabinet for approval.

The minister said that "now the time has come for punishments" and the prime minister has made absolutely clear that this "mafia" and others that have been operating for decades under the "leadership of past rulers", "will not be spared".