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Ahad Cheema handed over to NAB on 11-day physical remand in Ashiana housing scam

LAHORE: An accountability court here on Thursday granted National Accountability Bureau (NAB) 11-day physical remand of former Lahore Development Authority (LDA) director General Ahad Cheema in the Ashiana Housing Scheme scam.

During the court proceedings today, the former LDA director was presented before accountability Judge Muhammad Azam.

The NAB prosecutor informed the court that the accused granted contracts of the housing scheme on the basis of nepotism, besides taking bribes in allotting lands and receiving kickbacks.

The prosecutor then pleaded the court to grant a 14-day physical remand of the accused.

To which, the court agreed to 11-day physical remand.

NAB is currently investigating irregularities worth one billion rupees in the Ashiana housing scheme. Previously, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and the prime minister’s principal secretary Fawad Hasan Fawad were appeared before the anti-graft watchdog.

Earlier today, the former LDA officer was brought to the court in an armoured vehicle under stringent security measures, with a heavy contingent of police deployed in and around the court premises.

The accused was arrested on Wednesday (yesterday) under NAB ordinance for not turning up to the anti-graft body’s investigators.

Ahad Cheema, who is now serving as chief executive of the Punjab Power Company, was arrested from his office in Gulberg and shifted to NAB office in Thokar Niaz Baig area of Lahore.

Earlier, prime minister’s principal secretary Fawad Hassan Fawad appeared before the NAB Lahore to record his statement. He was questioned by the bureau’s combined investigation team (CIT) with regard to his alleged involvement in awarding a contract to a firm in violation of the relevant laws.

Previously on January 22, the anti-graft body questioned Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif in the same case.

The chief minister has been accused of illegally meddling in the affairs of the Punjab Land Development Company (PLDC) that caused over Rs one billion loss to the national exchequer.

According to the NAB notice, an inquiry against officials of the Punjab Land Development Company (PLDC) and LDA revealed that “prima facie Shahbaz Sharif, being the Chief Minister Punjab, had ordered certain illegal acts in sheer violation of the laid down procedures for functioning of PLDC due to which the company bore a huge financial loss.”

“Shahbaz had ordered cancellation of contract of Aashiana-e-Iqbal to a successful bidder, leading to award of the contract to other builder, which resulted into a loss of Rs 193 million approximately,” the notice reads.

He also directed PLDC to assign the project of Aashiana-e-Iqbal to LDA resulting into award of contracts to M/s Lahore Casa Developers (JV), thus causing loss of Rs 715 million approximately and ultimately failure of the project, according to the notice.

It says the chief minister had also directed PLDC to award consultancy services of Aashiana-e-Iqbal project for Rs 192 million approximately, but its actual cost was Rs 35 million.

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