LAHORE: An accountability court on Friday handed senior bureaucrat Fawad Hasan Fawad into the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) custody for 14 days on physical remand.
Fawad was arrested by the anti-graft body on Thursday over various corruption charges, including the Ashiana-e-Iqbal Housing Scheme case.
NAB officials initially denied the top civil servant’s arrest on Thursday, stating that he was summoned to the bureau for questioning. However, Lahore National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Director General Shahzad Saleem later told the media that Hasan was arrested for causing a loss of billions of rupees to the national exchequer in various scams.
During the hearing, the anti-graft body had requested the accountability court to grant a physical remand of the accused for further investigation.
Commenting on Fawad’s arrest Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader and former Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah alleged that NAB has been used in the past before election and it is now being used for the same purpose.
Fawad is accused of pressuring Punjab Land Development Company (PLDC) chief executive officer (CEO) Tahir Khursheed and Project Director Ali Moazzam to cancel the Ashiana contract with Chaudhry Latif and Sons and award it to his blue-eyed contractor, Lahore Casa Developers—a proxy group of Paragon City (Pvt) Limited.
As a result, the government had to pay Rs5.9 million in compensation to the Chaudhry and Sons in 2013. In addition, the cost of the project had also escalated by billions of rupees due to the delay.
Further, he had allegedly concealed the inquiry committee report declaring the award of the contract to Chaudhry Latif and Sons as per the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules. NAB has already investigated former Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif in this regard.
Listing the corruption charges, NAB officials claimed Fawad had wrongfully awarded the Ashiana contract to ‘favourites’, illegally awarded contracts for nine CNG stations
at the behest of Sprint Energy, a subsidiary of JS Group, by preparing fake NoCs for transfer of sites from one district to another, and also worked in Bank Alfalah from 2005 to 2006, even though the Establishment Division had turned down his request to do so.
Moreover, while being the provincial health secretary, Fawad had acquired six mobile health units which were purchased at a higher-than-market rate.
According to reports, the PLDC had assigned the low-cost housing scheme of the Punjab government to the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) through an agreement in January 2015.
The then LDA director general, Ahad Cheema, however, ‘illegally awarded’ the contract to Casa Developers— a joint venture of three firms Bismillah Engineering Services Co, SPARCO Construction Company and M/S China First Metallurgical Group Co Ltd— which failed to initiate Ashiana-i-Iqbal project over the past three years.
Cheema is already in NAB custody over his involvement in the case. His brother-in-law Mansoor Ahmad, cousin Ahmad Hassan, LDA official Sajjad Bhutta, LDA chief engineer Israr Saeed, former PLDC head Imtiaz Haider, PLDC Member Technical Land Financial Allocation Committee PLDC Arif Majeed Butt and its consultant Bilal Qidwai are also in custody.
Brothers of Paragon City CEO Nadim, Zia Munir Zia and Umer Zia, have also been arrested. While Nadim, on the other hand, has fled the country in order to evade arrest.
MEGAMALL IN RAWALPINDI:
In addition to alleged involvement in Ashiana scam, the ex-principal secretary has also been accused of constructing of a megamall—worth Rs 12 billion— in Rawalpindi.
According to NAB documents, the inquiry against Fawad was launched on the request of Khurram Qureshi, a resident of Islamabad. Qureshi had alleged that Fawad and his brother Waqar had no source of income to justify assets of over Rs12 billion. He had accused that Fawad, in connivance with his brother Waqar, and persons named Gul Zareen from Belgium and Qamar Chaudhry, constructed a huge plaza opposite to GPO in Sadar, Rawalpindi.
The land for the plaza was taken from Gul Zareen in exchange for certain promises and a residential plot at Haider Road, Rawalpindi. Financing for the construction of the said building was arranged by JS Bank using influence.