The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has arrested five men, including officials of the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA), and registered two separate cases against two oil marketing companies (OMCs) for their alleged involvement in the petrol scandal of June 2020.
The agency arrested OMC Fossil Energy’s CEO Nadeem Butt, OGRA member gas Amir Naseem, OGRA member oil Abdullah Malik, Energy and Petroleum Ministry DG oil Shafiullah Afridi and Assistant Director oil Imran Abro.
The OGRA officials face charges of illegally issuing licences to OMCs.
The officials of the Energy and Petroleum Division are accused of issuing illegal quota of petroleum imports.
The FIA claimed that the OMCs, in connivance with OGRA, had set up a network of illegal petrol pumps across the country.
The suspects have allegedly caused a loss of billions of rupees to the national treasury by issuing OMCs licences illegally and import quotas and buying and selling petroleum imports in violation of the law.
The profits earned through this illegal way have been laundered out of the country, the FIA maintained.
The FIA has obtained physical remand of the arrested men and started interrogating them.
A commission of inquiry formed in July last year to probe into a sudden shortage of fuel in the country had held the OMCs primarily responsible for the crisis, noting that they had deliberately stopped supplying petroleum products to pumps despite having considerable stocks at their disposal.
It said in its report that the OMCs had made from Rs6 to Rs8 billion during the June oil crisis by committing every illegality in “business as usual” manner.
It said as the OMCs would incur a substantial Inventory loss by free sale in June, they took the easy way out to simply slow down or dry out supplies, against all legal and moral norms.
“Consequently, the shortage of petrol began to surface across the country and the filling stations gradually became dry, denying the public at large to reap the benefit of this substantial price cut.”
It said the OMCs, in contravention of licence conditions, slowed down the supply of petrol to their filling stations. On a lesser scale, the filling stations also held back on whatever stock they had in their tanks.
“All OMCs [other than the Pakistan State Oil (PSO) and Shell] proportionally held on to their stocks with knowledge of anticipated rise in prices. This has been proven during ground check of filling stations and records submitted by the OMCs with affidavits,” the report read.
It said the PSO, being a state-owned entity, could not follow this illegal suit due to the prevailing situation. Consequently, its market share in the period of shortage increased by nearly 20 percent and consequently, it sustained a loss of Rs7 to Rs8 billion in the process.