LAHORE: An accountability court on Saturday extended physical remand of former railways minister Khwaja Saad Rafiq and his brother former Punjab health minister Khwaja Salman Rafiq for another one week in Paragon City Housing Society scam.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) officials produced Khwaja brothers before the court on expiry of their previous remand. Strict security measures had been taken before the appearance of the duo as all roads adjacent to the judicial complex were blocked for traffic.

During the hearing, NAB Special Prosecutor Waris Ali Janjua told the court that further custody of the accused persons was required to investigate suspicious bank accounts.

Khwaja brothers’ counsel Advocate Amjad Pervaiz opposed the prosecutor’s stance and stated that all bank transactions were legal and declared in tax documents. He said there were no secret financial deals with the Paragon City.

Refuting an allegation on Saad of receiving illegal money from M/s Executive Builders, the counsel said the money had been received on account of services and every payment was on record. He argued that the NAB had no ground to seek further physical remand.

However, Judge Syed Najamul Hassan Bokhari granted seven-day physical remand of the Khwaja brothers to the NAB and sought their next appearance on Jan 26.

The judge allowed the NAB seven-day transit remand of Saad, also an MNA, as the National Assembly speaker had issued his production order for the next session.

In the Paragon case, the NAB alleged that Saad through his “benamidar” wife Ghazala and in connivance with his brother, Salman, with the abetment of former MPA Qaiser Amin Butt and Nadeem Zia established a housing project in the name of Air Avenue.

It said the project was later converted into a new housing project namely Paragon City Pvt Ltd. The Paragon City was an illegal society and not approved by the Lahore Development Authority (LDA), it added.

The NAB further alleged that the suspects along with other accomplices cheated public at large and obtained illegal financial benefits from the funds of the illegal society. It said the former railways minister was continuously receiving monitory benefits from the housing project as he obtained 40-kanal land in his own name and in the name of his brother.

It said the former railways minister received Rs100 million approximately from M/s Executive Builders (proxy set-up of the Paragon City) in bank accounts of M/s Saadain Associates and M/s KSR Associates.

Published in Dawn, January 20th, 2019