NAB Court adjourns Ashiana Housing scandal hearing till March 27

LHC grants pre-arrest bail to Shehbaz Sharif till June 17 in graft case

LAHORE: An accountability court on Saturday adjourned hearing of Ramzan Sugar Mills and Ashiana Housing Scheme cases against Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) President and the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif and his son Hamza Shehbaz till March 27.
As accountability Court Judge Jawad-ul-Hassan resumed hearing of the cases, Sharif pleaded not guilty by stating that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had falsely accused him in the cases.
To which, the judge responded, “You can convey your reservations at an appropriate time as the case was not being adjudicated by me.” Subsequently, the judge, due to absence of admin judge, adjourned hearing of the case.
Besides, former Lahore Development Authority (LDA) director general Ahad Cheema, Ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s principal secretary Fawad Hassan Fawad and other accused also appeared before the court.
Earlier on March 14, the NAB had filed a petition in the Supreme Court (SC) of Pakistan against Sharif’s release on bail in Ramzan Sugar Mills and Ashiana Housing Scheme cases.
The plea was submitted by NAB Special Prosecutor Akram Qureshi in which it was stated that Shehbaz Sharif’s bail approval by the Lahore High Court was contradictory to facts.
The NAB took the stance that former Punjab Chief Minister caused loss to national exchequer in Ramzan Sugar Mills and Ashiana Housing Scheme scams and exceeded his jurisdictions. The apex court was requested to nullify the LHC’s decision of bail approval.
The LHC had granted the bail against two surety bonds worth one million each after Shehbaz Sharif filed petition in Ramzan Sugar Mills and Ashiana Housing Scheme cases.
Shehbaz Sharif was taken into custody by the National Accountability Bureau Lahore in connection with the Ashiana Housing case on October 5, 2018.
He had been charged with misuse of authority by unlawfully assuming powers of the board of directors of the Punjab Land Development Company (PLDC), and awarding a contract to an ineligible proxy firm that resulted in the failure of the housing scheme. The scam caused a loss to the public exchequer and deprived 61,000 applicants of houses.
The PML-N president had failed to satisfy the probing team of the bureau during the investigation before being arrested.
The anti-graft watchdog had claimed that the company did not conduct any kind of survey but nevertheless was provided a lucrative sum of Rs 1.5 billion.
Ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s principal secretary Fawad Hassan Fawad became an approver in the case. Fawad Hassan Fawad, in his statement before NAB, had claimed that he had awarded a contract to a “favorite firm” in the Rs14 billion Ashiana Housing project at the behest of Shehbaz Sharif.
The anti-graft agency said that the contract for the housing scheme was won by a construction company titled Chaudhry Latif and Sons but Sharif cancelled it and later on awarded the contract to Lahore Casa Developers – a proxy group of Paragon City (Pvt) Limited, which is said to be owned by ex-Railways Minister Saad Rafique.


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