KARACHI: In a dramatic development, the Karachi office of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) took Iqbal Z. Ahmad, one of the country’s leading LNG magnates, into custody from his office in Lahore.
“He was arrested in Lahore by the Karachi NAB team,” the bureau’s official spokesman told Dawn. “After transit remand from an accountability court in Lahore, he will be shifted to Karachi in order to join a money laundering inquiry going on against him. He has allegedly received more than Rs100 billion in his account and as per initial inquiry report, he failed to provide money trail of the above said amount.”
But Mr Ahmad’s family told Dawn that they had no inkling that he was even under investigation, let alone that he had been asked to provide a money trail. A source within the family who did not wish to be identified confirmed the arrest from the Lahore head office of Associated Group owned by Mr Ahmad, but added that they had no knowledge of any inquiries or questions that he had been asked to provide answers to prior to the arrest.
“We were taken completely by surprise,” they say. “The arresting party refused to show warrants at the time of the arrest and these were shown only later, after the arrest,” they say, adding the arresting party did not produce a charge-sheet either.
No further details could be obtained about the money laundering charge under which Mr Ahmad was being investigated, as per the NAB statement. It is not known over what time period the alleged Rs100bn was received by Mr Ahmad, or even whether it was all received in one account or spread over multiple accounts.
Mr Ahmad’s company owns and operates one of the two LNG terminals in Pakistan, but has been a giant in the field of Liquefied Petroleum Gas production and distribution since the year 2000, through his company Jamshoro Joint Venture Ltd (JJVL). He moved into LNG (which is a completely different type of gas) in 2015 when he cast his bid for the plant his company currently operates. He made the move because the fields from where JJVL extracted its LPG were entering into decline, and LNG was looming as the fuel of the future for Pakistan.