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Tuesday Apr 03 2018
Web Desk

Ashiana scam: Court extends Cheema, other suspects' physical remand for 14 days

Web Desk
Ahad Cheema being produced in the court today. Photo: Geo News 

LAHORE: An accountability court on Tuesday extended by 14 days the physical remand of former Lahore Development Authority (LDA) director general Ahad Cheema, chief executive officer (CEO) of Bismillah Engineering Shahid Shafiq and two others accused in the Ashiana Housing Scam. 

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) produced Cheema, Shafiq and two others in the court today seeking an extension in the suspects' physical remand.

The court was informed by NAB officials that further investigation is required in the case, including forensic examination of Cheema's laptop. 

After reserving its verdict, the court extended the remand for 14 days and directed NAB to produce the suspects on April 17.

Moreover today, the Lahore High Court dismissed Cheema's plea against his arrest by NAB. 

On March 20, the Interior Ministry blacklisted Cheema from obtaining a passport and an accountability court approved an extension of his physical remand.

NAB is investigating allegations that Cheema, by misuse of authority and with criminal intent, awarded a contract of the Ashiana-e-Iqbal housing project of approximately Rs14 billion to Lahore Casa Developers — a joint-venture which was ineligible for the contract.

The NAB had launched an investigation against the management, officers, and officials of the Punjab Land Development Company (PLDC), management and owners of Lahore Casa Developers, officers and officials of the LDA after the government cancelled the award of the Ashiana-e-Iqbal housing scheme to the successful bidder M/S Chaudhry Latif and Sons.

The award was given to M/S Lahore Casa Developers (JV) – a proxy group of M/S Paragon City (Pvt) Limited (which is stated to be developed by Railways Minister Saad Rafique) – hence causing a loss of millions of rupees to the exchequer.

Shafiq's company was part of the joint venture Lahore Casa Developers that NAB has said was ineligible to receive the contract.

The case

On March 17, the Punjab government suspended Cheema from service for three months.

According to a notification issued by the Punjab government, Cheema’s suspension will start from the day he was arrested by the NAB and will last for three months.

Cheema, a grade-19 employee, was serving as the chief executive of Quaid-e-Azam Thermal Power Limited when he was arrested.

The sources in Punjab Civil Secretariat said that notification of Cheema’s arrest was issued after approval from the federal government.

Cheema was arrested on February 21 after NAB detected illegalities and corruption worth billions in a deal between Paragon Housing Society and Punjab Land Development Company to construct the Ashiana-e-Iqbal Housing Society, a low-cost project of the Punjab government.

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