LAHORE: An accountability court on Saturday adjourned the hearing of Ramzan Sugar Mills and Ashiana Housing Scheme cases against Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif and Hamza Shehbaz till March 27.
As Accountability Judge Jawadul Hassan resumed hearing of the cases, Sharif pleaded not guilty by stating that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had falsely accused him in the cases.
To which, the judge responded, “You can convey your reservations at an appropriate time as the case is not being adjudicated by me.” Subsequently, the judge, due to the absence of the admin judge, adjourned the hearing of the case.
Besides, former Lahore Development Authority (LDA) director general Ahad Cheema, Ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s principal secretary Fawad Hassan Fawad and other accused also appeared before the court.
Earlier on March 14, the NAB had filed a petition in the Supreme Court (SC) of Pakistan against Shahbaz Sharif’s release on bail in Ramzan Sugar Mills and Ashiana Housing Scheme cases.
The plea was submitted by NAB Special Prosecutor Akram Qureshi in which it was stated that Shahbaz Sharif’s bail approval by the Lahore High Court was contradictory to facts.
The NAB upheld that former Punjab chief minister caused loss to the national exchequer in Ramzan Sugar Mills and Ashiana Housing Scheme project and exceeded his jurisdictions. The apex court was requested to nullify the LHC’s decision of bail approval.
The LHC had granted bail against two surety bonds worth one million each after Shahbaz Sharif filed a petition in Ramzan Sugar Mills and Ashiana Housing Scheme cases.
Shahbaz Sharif was taken into custody by the National Accountability Bureau Lahore in connection with the Ashiana Housing case on October 5, 2018.
He had been charged with misuse of authority by unlawfully assuming powers of the board of directors of the Punjab Land Development Company (PLDC), and awarding a contract to an ineligible proxy firm that resulted in the failure of the project. The scam caused a massive loss to the public exchequer and deprived 61,000 applicants of houses.
The PML-N president had failed to satisfy the probing team of the bureau during the investigation before being arrested.
The anti-graft watchdog had claimed that the company did not conduct any kind of survey but nevertheless was provided with a lucrative sum of Rs1.5 billion.
Former Principal Secretary to then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Fawad Hassan Fawad, became an approver in the case. In his statement before NAB, he claimed to be awarding a contract in the Rs14 billion Ashiana Housing project at the behest of Shahbaz Sharif.
The anti-graft agency said that the contract for the housing scheme was won by a construction company titled Chaudhry Latif and Sons but Sharif cancelled it and later on awarded the contract to Lahore Casa Developers – a proxy group of Paragon City (Pvt) Limited, which is said to be owned by ex-Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique.