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Tuesday Apr 17 2018

Ashiana scam: Court extends Cheema, other suspects' physical remand until April 26

Ahad Cheema. Photo: File

LAHORE: An accountability court on Tuesday extended the judicial remand of former Director General Lahore Development Authority Ahad Cheema and Chief Executive Officer Bismillah Engineering Shahid Shafiq until April 26 in the Ashiyana Housing scam case.

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.

During the hearing under Judge Najamul Hasan, the National Accountability Bearue prosecutors requested the extension of the judicial remand of the suspects.

Friction was seen between the counsel of both the parties in the hearing. After reserving its verdict, the court extended the remand of suspects till April 26.

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.