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Ashiana Housing scam: NAB prepares reference against Shahbaz, Fawad

LAHORE: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Lahore has prepared a reference against the PML-N president, Shahbaz Sharif and former principal secretary to ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif Fawad Hasan Fawad, in the Rs14 billion Ashiana-i-Iqbal housing project case and sent it to the anti-graft watchdog chairman retired justice Javed Iqbal for approval.

“The main charge against Shahbaz Sharif is misuse of authority, while Mr Fawad is accused of making assets worth Rs740 million illegally, besides misuse of authority,” an official source said.

He said a relative of Mr Fawad had contacted NAB for plea bargain, but so far Mr Fawad had not himself consented for it. “Mr Fawad will have to deposit his liability (Rs740m) to the national exchequer as he made the amount illegally,” he said.

“The reference will be filed in the accountability court after the approval of the executive board of the bureau under chairman,” he said.

With regard to investigation against Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif for allegedly possessing assets beyond his known sources of income, the source said: “The bureau is investigating some benami accounts in this respect.”

In the Ashiana housing case, Shahbaz is accused of misuse of authority for canceling the award of the project’s contract to successful bidder M/s Chaudhry Latif and Sons and instead obliging M/s Lahore Casa Developers (JV) — a proxy group of M/s Paragon City (Pvt) Limited (which is allegedly developed by former railways minister Khwaja Saad Rafique) — thus causing millions of rupees losses to the exchequer.

Mr Shahbaz also allegedly directed the Punjab Land Development Company (PLDC) to assign the project to the Lahore Development Authority (LDA), resulting in award of contract to the Lahore Casa Developers (JV). This allegedly caused Rs715 million loss to the exchequer and ultimately failed the project.

“Shahbaz is also accused of directing the PLDC to award consultancy services of the project to M/s Engineering Consultancy Services Punjab for Rs192m, whereas the actual cost was Rs35m as quoted by Nespak.”

On the other hand, Mr Fawad could not provide money trail of his assets. Mr Fawad, being implementation secretary to then chief minister Shahbaz Sharif in 2013 is also accused of misusing his authority.

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