AC extends Shehbaz Sharif’s judicial remand

Lahore: An accountability court on Thursday extended judicial remand of former chief minister Punjab, Shehbaz Sharif, Fawad Hasan Fawad and others in Ashiana Housing scheme scandal for 15 days. After hearing arguments from the prosecution, the court ordered that all accused in the case be produced on February 8. Meanwhile, the accountability court also directed the investigators to furnish report on Ramzan Sugar Mills case probe within 15 days. The lawyer of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) turned up and informed the court that Shehbaz Sharif couldn’t be produced as he was in Islamabad to attend the National Assembly session, The NAB lawyer requested the court to extend transit remand of Sharif due to production order issued by NA speaker for the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader. The hearing was adjourned till February 8. On January 23, the Lahore High Court (LHC) approved the hearing of a bail plea filed by Opposition Leader of National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif in Ashiana Housing scandal and Ramzan Sugar Mills case. The NAB had arrested Shehbaz Sharif on October 5 last year under corruption charges in Ashiana Iqbal scandal. Sharif has also to face pending inquiries about Ramzan Sugar Mills and the assets beyond his means of income. The leader of the opposition in the National Assembly was recently advised by doctors to resort to complete bed rest after deterioration of his health. The NAB accuses the suspects of causing a loss of Rs 666 million to the national exchequer with their corruption in the low-cost housing scheme launched by the PML-N government in the province. It alleged that Fawad misused his authority being secretary implementation of former chief minister Shahbaz Sharif and violated procurement rules to award contract of the housing scheme to a company of his choice. According to NAB, “the contract for the housing scheme was won by a construction company titled Chaudhry Latif and Sons but former Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif and his aides awarded the Rs 14 billion contract to Lahore Casa Developers,  a proxy group of Paragon City (Pvt) Limited, which is said to be owned by Railways Minister Saad Rafique”. As per law, it is illegal to make any agreement above Rs150 million with a single company. “Fawad Hasan Fawad leveled charges of wrongdoings against Chaudhry Latif and Sons in order for the contract to be awarded to Casa Developers,” the anti-graft body claimed. The NAB accused Shehbaz Sharif of issuing an unlawful order to entrust the housing project to the LDA when his close aide Ahad Khan Cheema was the head of the authority.