LAHORE: An accountability court on Wednesday postponed the indictment of National Assembly Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif and his son, Punjab Assembly Opposition Leader Hamza Shehbaz in the Ramzan Sugar Mills reference until the next hearing.
When the court resumed hearing of the case, Sharifs’ lawyer requested the court to postpone the indictment. Shehbaz and Hamza were also present during Wednesday’s hearing.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has filed a reference alleging that the former Punjab chief minister caused loss to the national exchequer and misused his authority by sanctioning construction of a bridge to facilitate his sugar mill.
On March 16, Shehbaz Sharif pleaded not guilty by stating that NAB had falsely accused him in the case. 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 against Shehbaz 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 Shehbaz Sharif’s bail approval by the Lahore High Court was contradictory to facts. 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 Shehbaz Sharif filed a petition in Ramzan Sugar Mills and Ashiana Housing Scheme cases.
The high court also ordered removal of Shehbaz’s name from the Exit Control List on Tuesday. His name was added to the no-fly list on February 22 in the Ashiana Housing case, after he was arrested by NAB in the probe on October 5, 2018.
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.