NAB given till 24th to file reference in Fazaia Housing Scheme land scam

Updated May 01 2020

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PAF and Maxim Properties are trying to hammer out a plan to refund the investors of Rs18 billion project. — Dawn archives
PAF and Maxim Properties are trying to hammer out a plan to refund the investors of Rs18 billion project. — Dawn archives

KARACHI: An accountability court on Thursday directed the National Accountability Bureau authorities to file a reference in the alleged Rs18 billion Fazaia Housing Scheme land scam by May 24.

Suspects Tanvir Ahmed and Bilal Tanvir of Maxim Properties have been arrested on charges of cheating the public in the name of the Fazaia Housing Scheme launched as a joint venture with the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) in 2015.

On Thursday, the matter came up before the administrative judge of the accountability courts, when investigating officer Pervaiz Abro requested for more time to enable NAB to file a reference in the matter.

He said the parties (PAF and M/s Maxim Properties) were trying to reach a settlement so that the allottees could be refunded, adding that such an arrangement was likely to be made by May 14. Therefore, they be allowed more time to do the needful.

Coming down hard on IO Abro, the judge observed that almost 120 days had passed since the suspects were arrested and the matter was brought to court. The judge asked why a reference had not yet been filed in the matter despite additional time granted.

The court directed the IO to file a reference with the court and adjourned the hearing till May 24.

PAF and Maxim Properties are trying to hammer out a plan to refund the investors of Rs18 billion project, accountability court told

The court also called a report from the IO about personal belongings of the suspects, which were seized at the time of their arrest, as requested by the defence counsel.

On the last date, the IO had informed the court that the regional board meeting of NAB held on March 16 had recommended filing of a reference after approval by the competent authority — the NAB chairman.

He had further stated that the matter was sent to the NAB headquarters for further processing on March 18, adding that the headquarters made some observations. After addressing the observations, the case was forwarded to NAB in Islamabad for a decision of its chairman, the IO had added.

However, the IO had said that during the hearing of identical petitions involving the same matter in the Sindh High Court, the counsel for the suspects had said that the parties (PAF and Maxim Properties) were trying to reach a settlement so that the allottees could be refunded.

Therefore, he had requested for time to submit a report in that regard, which was allowed till April 30.

In a previous hearing, the IO had submitted in a progress report that both suspects allegedly deliberately kept the site/location of the project concealed, dodging the public in the name of the PAF with the intention to extract maximum amounts from the affected persons.

It had also mentioned that the PAF had already submitted an application to NAB for refund to the affected people and was further willing to settle all liabilities.

The IO stated that during the interrogation of the suspects it had come on record that they illegally charged the allottees an amount of Rs39 million as a surcharge, Rs77m as processing fees, Rs9bn on apartments, Rs5bn on bungalows and more facts about their illegal accumulation of money were being unearthed to uncover the exact quantum of the fraud.

With regard to the land fraud, the IO said that further evidence had come on record that the Sindh government had already issued a notification in 2014 regarding the land for the K-IV water supply project by invoking Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act 1894.

But, the IO stated, the detained suspects hid this fact and managed to get the PAF to accept the land falling under the K-IV project for its housing scheme in 2015 with the connivance of other accomplices. The mala fide intentions were apparent from the fact they collected money from people for the land already earmarked for a government project, the IO added.

He said that 170 individuals/companies, who were paid, were to be tracked to ensure the recovery of the affectees’ money and find the other beneficiaries.

Published in Dawn, May 1st, 2020