ISLAMABAD, Sept 20: The National Accountability Bureau has challenged in the Supreme Court the bail of Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao granted by the Lahore High Court in the New City Islamabad (INC) housing project reference , NAB spokesman said on Monday.

In a press briefing held at the NAB headquarters, the spokesman said the interior minister had obtained a bail before arrest in the case which was being tried in an accountability court, Rawalpindi.

Replying to a question, the official said the NAB had not given any relaxation to the sitting ministers and parliamentarians involved in corruption cases. "Their cases are still under trial in relevant accountability courts and now it is up to the courts to make decisions," he said.

Mr Sherpao, who has recently been inducted in the federal cabinet as interior minister, was facing charges of obtaining share/pecuniary benefits to the tune of Rs10 million in the New City housing scam.

Other accused in the case are: Qazi Mohammad Zaheer, ex-SLIC chairman, Tahir Sarfraz Khan Niazi, Iqbal Ahmad Khan, Zahid Shafeeq, former National Assembly deputy speaker Haji Nawaz Khokhar, Mohammad Niaz Ali Khan, Syed Usman Ali Shah and Mohammad Niaz Ali Shah.

The case was transferred from the Lahore accountability court to the Rawalpindi accountability court after the NAB requested the LHC's chief justice to transfer the case since the case as well as all the co-accused and witnesses belonged to Islamabad.

The prosecution was pleading in the court that the National Housing Authority (NHA) had formed a joint venture company with M/s Hertz International (Pvt) Ltd., which was later re-named as M/s M. G. Realtors (Pvt), a private company for the development of the NHA's Housing Scheme-V, Islamabad New City.

The prosecution alleged that all the accused in connivance with each other cause loss of Rs209 million. Meanwhile, a source told Dawn that the amount was reportedly deposited by some 3,000 people mostly retired government employees.

Talking about cases of PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari, the NAB officials said the bureau would challenge in the Supreme Court the LHC decision to acquit Mr Zardari in the Steel Mills reference case.

The official said the PPP leader was facing eight corruption cases in the country and three money laundering cases aboard. The NAB spokesman said Mr Zardari was allegedly involved in Steel Mills reference, BMW car case, assets case, ARY Gold case, Polo Ground case, Awami Tractor Scheme case, SGS case and Cotecna pre-shipment case. The cases which were being tried abroad against Mr Zardari are: Cotecna case, Rook wood Estate case and Ursas Tractor case.

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