Attorney bans media coverage of refinery case
AMMAN (JT) – Attorney General at the State Security Court (SSC) Yousef Faouri on Tuesday issued a memorandum banning the press from reporting or commenting on the Jordan Petroleum Refinery Company (JPRC) expansion project case, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.
Petra said anyone wishing to publish any material should first obtain Faouri’s personal approval.
Two former executives at JPRC, a government official and a leading businessman were ordered detained at Jweidah prison by the Anti-Corruption Commission’s prosecutor general, Hassan Abdallat, on allegations of bribery and exploitation of public office.
After a Court of First Instance allowed their release on bail, Prime Minister Samir Rifai referred the case to the SSC, where the attorney general rejected bail citing lack of competence and ordered the four figures kept in custody, pending further investigation. Reports say that JD12 million is involved in the case as bribes.
The four include the former chairman of the JPRC and former finance minister Adel Qudah, former JPRC director general Ahmad Rifai, the prime minister’s economic adviser Mohammad Rawashdeh, and business tycoon Khaled Shahin, who was a bidder.
Faouri announced on Sunday that a team of prosecutors had been named to examine the case.
Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communications and Government Spokesperson Nabil Sharif said previously that the decision to refer the case to the SSC was made because the charges levied against the defendants in the case lie within the domain of economic security and are related to a public company involved in the vital energy sector.
In December last year, the Cabinet decided to form a committee, chaired by Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Khalid Irani, to study procedures regarding a tender for the JPRC expansion project.
At the time, the Cabinet asked the JPRC management to suspend all expansion procedures until the committee completed its work and submitted its recommendations.
The JPRC expansion project seeks to increase its refining capacity and improve the quality of oil derivatives at a cost of around $2.1 billion.
Around three months ago, the JPRC board dismissed the company’s director general and board chairman.
The refinery’s 50-year monopoly ended in 2008, but the government decided to extend the JPRC’s concession until December 12, 2009.
The decision was taken to regulate the market, pending the completion of the bidding process aimed at attracting a strategic partner to help implement the expansion project.