Six arrested in Model Housing Enclave scam

The prime accused Farhan Cheema was released by the court after a plea bargain of Rs620 million


Our Correspondent March 17, 2019
PHOTO: FILE

LAHORE: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Lahore arrested six suspects, including primary accused Farhan Cheema, in the Model Housing Enclave scandal on Saturday.

Other suspects were identified as Chauhan Estate owners Rashid Bashir and Agha Shahid, Al-Huda Estate owner Rizwan Fareed, Al-Amin Estate owner Sajid Amin and Arham Estate owner Saleem Ishtiaq.

Primary suspect Farhan Cheema was arrested by NAB in October 2017. He was released by the court after a plea bargain of Rs620 million.

Later, others came forward to stake a claim in the said case. NAB had informed Cheema about the new claimants and asked him to address their grievances. However, Cheema maintained that the other accused property dealers were to address these issues. NAB was investigating the matter further. The arrested individuals were presented before an accountability court which remanded them into physical custody of 12 days. The court asked NAB to present them on March 28.

Meanwhile, an accountability court adjourned the hearing of the Ramazan Sugar Mills and Ashiana Housing Scheme cases till March 27.

The leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, Shehbaz Sharif, the opposition leader in Punjab Assembly Hamza Shehbaz, former LDA DG Ahad Khan Cheema and other suspects had been nominated in the cases.

Strict security arrangements were made for the hearing. Police blocked the roads leading to the court using containers, barricades and barbed wire.

A duty judge, in the absence of accountability court judge Syed Najamul Hassan, resumed the hearing. The accused persons pleaded not guilty before the court, stating that NAB had falsely implicated them in these cases.

The judge said they could express their reservations at a suitable time and adjourned the case.

Ashiana-e-Iqbal Housing scheme was a plan initiated by the Punjab government under the then Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif to build houses under public-private partnership. The homes would be provided to the public at subsidised rates.

The project could not be initiated despite the passage of many years. NAB accused Shehbaz Sharif, Ahad Khan Cheema and former principal secretary to prime minister, Fawad Hassan Fawad, of corruption worth billions of rupees. According to NAB, the accused misused their authority had granted the contract of the project to a firm that was not eligible. The step was taken after cancelling the contract of the successful bidder.

As far as the Ramazan Sugar Mill scandal was concerned, Shehbaz, Hamza and others were accused of constructing a drain for the factory by using public money.

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