PAF, NAB negotiating to repay investors hit by housing scam

Published February 7, 2020
Defence counsel for the suspects Ravi Panjani contended that NAB was targeting only his clients, but no action was being taken against the others involved in the alleged scam. — Dawn/File
Defence counsel for the suspects Ravi Panjani contended that NAB was targeting only his clients, but no action was being taken against the others involved in the alleged scam. — Dawn/File

KARACHI: Correspondence is under way between the National Accountability Bureau and the Pakistan Air Force, which is willing to refund the amount collected from the affectees of the Fazaia Housing Scheme Karachi (FHSK) and to further settle all liabilities in that regard.

This was stated by investigating officer Aslam Pervaiz Abro in a report regarding progress in the probe into an alleged Rs18 billion housing society scam submitted to administrative judge of the accountability courts Farid Anwar Qazi.

The report mentioned that two detained suspects — Tanvir Ahmed and Bilal Tanvir of Maxim Properties — were involved in cheating the public in the name of the FHSK, which they alleged was illegally launched in a joint venture with the Pakistan Air Force in 2015.

The report stated that the PAF had already submitted an application to the federal anti-graft watchdog for refund to the affectees and was further willing to settle all liabilities. It added that notices had been repeated to all the PAF officers involved in planning and execution of the FHSK project.

Notices have been reissued to all PAF officers involved in the project

“PAF has sold out the units to its own employees, Tanvir Ahmed and Bilal are responsible for the sale of the housing units to the general public and have collected Rs18 billion,” said the report.

Defence counsel for the suspects Ravi Panjani contended that NAB was targeting only his clients, but no action was being taken against the others involved in the alleged scam.

Special public prosecutor Shahbaz Sahotra produced some documents before the court and informed it that correspondence between the NAB and PAF authorities was under way with regard to refund and settlement of liabilities.

In the report, the IO said that both builders had not yet determined the number of the housing units to be built on the land designated for the FHSK, adding that they started a massive advertising campaign to lure the public into subscribing membership of the society in connivance with their other accomplices.

It further stated that the FHSK was not registered with any government agency, but the builders sold 160,000 forms of the society against Rs1,000 each or even more.

The suspects unfairly charged the public Rs1,548,870,000 at the time of registration as refundable amount and had been drawing bank profit on the amount till date, but failed to refund Rs402,080,000, it added.

Commitment to build 2,804 luxury flats by 2020

The report mentioned that the physical inspection of Site-I conducted with the assistance of technical experts to verify the builders’ claim of expenditures showed that they had planned to build 2,804 luxury flats in 25 mammoth towers and high-rise buildings in 2015 with a commitment to complete the project by 2020.

However, the inspection showed that not a single apartment had been built on ground in more than four years despite collecting Rs18bn from the people in the name of development work, it said, adding that regrettably even less than four per cent work had been done. The suspects collected money from the public for booking 2,630 standard apartments and 2,649 bungalows on 269 acres of land at Site-II, which was yet to be inspected.

The report stated that during the accounts analysis to track the outflow it was found that Rs2.366bn was illegally withdrawn by the detained builders who had done jugglery of the transactions to camouflage the money trail. They deceptively transferred funds from one bank account to 36 other accounts, the report said, adding that the complex layering of the funds by them showed their intention to launder the proceeds of crime and its subsequent integration as legitimate funds.

The report mentioned that 23 bank accounts of the detained suspects had recently been unearthed in addition to the previous 36 bank accounts, which needed to be examined to trace Rs2.3bn of the public.

Mr Sahotra said the technical analysis of the bank accounts, project site inspection and verification of the claims of the affectees were required to be conducted. Therefore, a 14-day extension in the physical remand of the suspects in the custody of NAB was required to complete the interrogation and investigation.

Allowing the request, the judge granted 12-day further remand of the suspects in NAB custody with the direction to the IO to produce them on the next date with a progress report.

Published in Dawn, February 7th, 2020

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