LAHORE: An accountability court on Friday granted 14-day physical remand of former principal secretary to the prime minister Fawad Hassan Fawad to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in Ashiana-i-Iqbal Housing Scheme scam.

Earlier, NAB officials presented Mr Fawad before the court with a request to issue his physical remand for 15 days to complete interrogation.

During the hearing, the bureau’s investigation officer told the court that Fawad being implementation secretary to former chief minister Shahbaz Sharif misused his power and violated procurement rules to award a contract of the housing scheme to a company of his choice. He said initially a Rs1.5 billion contract was awarded to successful bidder, M/s Chaudhry Latif and Sons.

He said the suspect cancelled the contract and awarded it to M/s Lahore Casa Developers on an inflated price of Rs4 billion. The government had to pay Rs6m as fine to the successful bidder.

On being given an opportunity by the court to say something in his defence, Mr Fawad denied all the charges against him, saying he had no authority to cancel the contract. He said being the implementation secretary his job was to get the orders of the chief minister implemented only.

He said he served in Punjab till March 30, 2013 and never intervened in affairs of the province after assuming charge as principal secretary to prime minister. He said Shahbaz Sharif had ordered an inquiry into the contract after discrepancies were found in it.

Meanwhile, the counsel for Fawad filed an application for his medical examination by an orthopaedic surgeon and a nephrologist, which the court allowed.

The court allowed the NAB 14-day custody of Fawad with directions to produce him again on July 19.

In the same case, the NAB had also arrested former chairman of the Lahore Development Authority, Ahad Khan Cheema. He was in jail on judicial remand after completing 90-day physical remand with the bureau.

Cheema had been arrested on Feb 21 on charges of misusing his authority with a criminal intent and awarding Rs14 billion contracts of the Ashiana-i-Iqbal Housing Scheme. Procurement rules had been violated by Cheema. The NAB alleged that Bismillah Engineering of Shahid Shafiq was a proxy firm working on behalf of Paragon City Developers (Pvt) Ltd. It further said Cheema received illegal gratification in the form of 32 kanal from the owners of Paragon developers.

Published in Dawn, July 07th, 2018

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