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PM’s aide fails to show up to NAB office in Ashiana Housing scam

LAHORE: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s principal secretary Fawad Hassan Fawad on Thursday didn’t show up to National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Lahore office for a grilling session.

The anti-graft body had summoned Fawad with an inquiry into alleged irregularities in Lahore’s Ashiana Housing Scheme.

The PM Abbasi’s aide was directed to appear before its combined investigation team (CIT) to document his statement with regard to his alleged involvement in awarding a contract to a firm in violation of rules in the housing scheme.

The scheme was launched by the Punjab Land Development Company (PLDC).

Earlier on January 22, the anti-graft body had summoned Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif to appear before its investigators for a grilling session.

The provincial chief minister then stayed in NAB Lahore office for more than one-and-half hour and left immediately after recording his statement.

He 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.

A combined investigation team (CIT) of the bureau questioned him for allegedly misusing his authority to award the contract of Ashiana Housing Scheme project to a company but the successful bidder.

According to the NAB notice, an inquiry against officials of the Punjab Land Development Company (PLDC) and Lahore Development Authority (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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