x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Former Pakistan oil and gas chief in police custody in Abu Dhabi

A former oil and gas chief wanted in Pakistan in connection with an alleged US$850 million embezzlement case is in police custody in Abu Dhabi, the Pakistan Embassy has confirmed.

Abu Dhabi Police are holding a former oil and gas chief wanted in Pakistan in connection with an US$850 million (Dh3.12?bn) embezzlement, the Pakistani Embassy said.

Tauqir Sadiq was arrested on Tuesday. “We can confirm that Tauqir Sadiq has been taken into custody here in the UAE,” an embassy spokesman said.

Later, the Pakistan Embassy said it was in constant communication with Pakistan’s National Accountability Bureau (Nab) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan as well as UAE authorities regarding the repatriation of Mr Sadiq.

“The accused Mr Touqir Sadiq is still in the custody of the UAE authorities and matters pertaining to his repatriation to Pakistan are still under process by the UAE authorities in consultation with Nab and the Embassy of Pakistan, Abu Dhabi,” it said.

Mr Sadiq is accused of taking kickbacks and commissions worth more than Dh3bn while head of Pakistan’s Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority between 2009 and 2011.

The allegations made against him could also lead to a criminal case against the Pakistani prime minister, Raja Pervez Ashraf.

Mr Ashraf was water and power minister at the time. Mr Sadiq fled Pakistan a year ago.

Zafar Iqbal, a spokesman for Nab, said Mr Sadiq could return to Pakistan in the next few days after legal formalities are completed.

The next supreme court hearing in the case is due today.

On January 24 the court registered a case against Mr Ashraf, the interior minister Rehman Malik, and another senior member of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party over Mr Sadiq’s appointment in 2009 and his absconding.

The court has also ordered Mr Ashraf’s arrest over another corruption investigation from his tenure as water and power minister.

Members of the government, however, have accused judges of a witch hunt against the administration, which in March this year will become the first elected civilian government in Pakistan to complete a full term in office.

In June last year, the supreme court sacked Mr Ashraf’s predecessor, Yousuf Raza Gilani, over his refusal to ask Switzerland to reopen corruption cases against the president, Asif Ali Zardari.

nhanif@thenational.ae