LAHORE: Rebuffing Punjab government’s allegations in the Ashiana Housing Scheme scam, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has said that Ahad Cheema took undue advantage of his authority by awarding an illegal contract of Rs14 billion.
According to a statement issued by NAB on Sunday, expenses of the project increased manifold due to the connivance of the government and the developers. Illegal sanctions caused huge losses to the national exchequer, while in three years the Ashiana Iqbal project did not even kick off, it added.
The NAB stated under the contract dated January 20, 2015 inked with Punjab Land Development Company, the Punjab government gave the Ashiana Iqbal project to Lahore Development Authority (LDA). Taking undue advantage of his authority, former LDA DG Ahad Cheema handed over the project under a joint venture to Casa Developers.
Under the JV, Sparco Construction had 9% shares, but the accused showed it as a front company for Casa Developers, which is illegal, when 90% shares of the JV belonged to Bismillah Engineering.
Bismillah Engineering was given a contract of Rs14 billion. Accused Cheema not even readied the proposal request in a criminal manner but also got it approved.
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Taking undue advantage of his authority, Cheema in connivance in March 2015 gave the Rs14 billion contract to Casa Developers under the Public Private Partnership, whereas, the original lead company of the JV was Bismillah Engineering, which was not qualified to undertake such a mega project.
Under the PPO Act Section 14 (D, H and G), it is important to obtain the details of the shareholders for awarding contract, but Cheema in connivance with the JV members compiled an MoU through which the details of the shareholders were kept a secret.
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Despite submitting the papers of the JV contract, Cheema continued awarding contracts.
The national treasury suffered heavy losses due to these illegal acts.
Even though in three years the Ashiana Iqbal project did not start, around Rs60 million of the poor people was devoured in the name of process fees, the NAB stated, adding that during this period, the government spent Rs190 million. Under liquidation damage, Casa Developers caused a loss of Rs455 million.
Further, Rs30.9 million was transferred from the Paragon City DHA branch to Paragon City project Director Nadeem Zia’s Allied Bank Ltd Sadiq Pura Branch.
The main reason for the transfer of the amount was to buy an agricultural land in Mauza Tedha, added NAB.
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Later on, the land was transferred in the names of accused Ahad Cheema, his brother Saud Cheema, sister Sadia Mansoor and cousin Ahmed Hassan.
Replying to the allegations levelled by the provincial government, NAB stated that the arrest of Cheema was justified. “We have solid proof.”
NAB presented Bismillah Engineering Services partner Shahid Shafiq before the Judicial Magistrate Jawad Ali Naqvi and obtained a one-day remand as the accountability court was closed.
He will be presented before the accountability court today (Monday) to obtain further physical remand. Shafiq is accused of obtaining the Rs14 billion contract on fake papers.
NAB sources said that Shafiq was arrested on a tip-off that he might flee the country. He owns the Paragon City’s ‘C’ category company.