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LAHORE: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has reportedly found ‘evidence’ of former Lahore Development Authority director general Ahad Khan Cheema’s Rs400 million share in another housing scheme in Lahore.

“During investigation in the Rs14 billion Ashiana-i-Iqbal housing scam, NAB has got a clue that Mr Cheema is a shareholder of Rs400m in a housing society on Ferozepur Road,” a source told Dawn on Thursday.

He said there were three partners in this scheme. “Director properties of M/s Paragon City (Pvt) Limited Nadeem Zia is said to be the second partner,” he said. He would not confirm the name of the third partner.

A NAB spokesman, when contacted by Dawn, chose not to comment on this development in the case.

An accountability court on Monday last extended physical remand of Mr Cheema and Bismillah Engineering proprietor Shahid Shafiq Faridi for further 15 days in Ashiana case. The bureau’s investigating officer said forensic examination of two cell phones and a laptop recovered from Mr Cheema had not been received from the Punjab Forensic Science Agency so far.

According to NAB, Mr Cheema allegedly misused his authority and with criminal intent prepared, processed, recommended and got approved a fraudulent and illegal request by awarding contract of the Ashiana-i-Iqbal Housing Society project.

“The Punjab Land Development Company had assigned the low-cost housing scheme of the Punjab government to the LDA through an agreement in January 2015. Mr Cheema, being LDA DG, awarded contract of the project of Rs14bn approximately to M/s Casa Developers, a joint venture of three firms M/s Bismillah Engineering Services Co, M/s SPARCO Construction Company and M/s China First Metallurgical Group Co Ltd.”

NAB said the suspect’s illegal actions caused loss to the national exchequer as the contractor willfully failed to even initiate Ashiana-i-Iqbal project over the past three years. “Almost 61,000 poor applicants submitted around Rs60 million as processing fee in recent years for allotment of houses. The government incurred an amount of Rs190 million and the contractor M/s Casa Developers also caused loss in the form of liquidation damages of Rs455 million approximately. In addition, the project cost also increased by hundreds of millions of rupees,” NAB said.

The bureau said Nadeem Zia, a close aide to Mr Cheema, received Rs30.9 million in his bank account from the M/s Paragon City (Pvt) Limited account maintained at DHA Lahore and same was paid for the purchase of 32-kanal land in Mouza Tedha tehsil in Lahore Cantonment. “The said land was transferred in the name of Ahad Khan Cheema’s family members - a brother, a sister and a cousin.”

NAB had recently raided the residence and office of Mr Zia to arrest him but returned unsuccessful.

Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and Secretary to Prime Minister Fawad Hassan Fawad have already appeared before NAB and recorded their statements in the case.

Published in Dawn, March 9th, 2018