LAHORE: In a major development in the Rs14 billion Ashiana-i-Iqbal housing scam, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Friday arrested four more suspects including two senior officers of the Punjab government.

According to the NAB, those arrested are Lahore Development Authority chief engineer Israr Saeed (who is also project director of the Lahore Orange Line), former chief executive officer of Punjab Land Development Company Imtiaz Haider, Member Technical Land Financial Allocation Committee PLDC Arif Majeed Butt and consultant Bilal Qidwai.

An official source told Dawn that NAB on Friday had summoned these officials to question them for their alleged role in the scam at its Thokar Niaz Beg office.

“On failure to clarify their position, NAB arrested them,” he said, adding they were part of the ‘dubious’ agreement between the government and contracting firms.

Former LDA director general Ahad Khan Cheema has already been in the custody of NAB on physical remand till March 20.

Mr Cheema is accused of misusing 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 PLDC 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 ‘illegally’ 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. The contractor willfully failed to initiate Ashiana-i-Iqbal project over the past three years.”

In a related development NAB has also sought details of property record of Mr Cheema’s family members from the LDA till March 15.

Published in Dawn, March 10th, 2018

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