Court indicts Shakil in illegal land allotment case

LAHORE: An accountability court in Lahore on Thursday indicted Jang group chief executive officer (CEO) Mir Shakilur Rahman and two others in a National Accountability Bureau (NAB) reference in connection with a 34-year-old shady real estate deal and tax evasion involving deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

Accountability court Judge Asad Ali presided over the hearing in which the other accused — former Lahore Development Authority (LDA) director general Humayon Faiz Rasool and its former land development department director Mian Bashir Ahmad — were also present.

All three accused pleaded not guilty to the charges after which the court ordered the agency to summon its witnesses to record their statements at the next hearing on February 16.

Shakil was arrested in March last on charges of illegal acquiring of 294,030 square feet of state-owned land in Lahore’s Johar Town neighbourhood in 1986 through assistance from the office of Sharif, then chief minister of Punjab. The NAB claimed the allotment was against the exemption policy and the laws for monetary gains.

In 2016, NAB said, he managed to have ownership rights transferred to him when Sharif was at the helm. The agency further said the suspects had caused a loss of Rs143.53 million to the national exchequer through the allotment in violation of relevant laws.

The anti-graft agency arrested Shakil after he had failed to satisfy their answers in a hearing regarding the case.

Jang group insisted the case was trumped up and being used as an attempt to silence Shakil and his company because of its reporting that was critical of the government and NAB.

Rahman was granted bail by the Supreme Court (SC) in November 2020 after months in jail while Sharif, who is residing in London since November 2019, was declared an absconder by the accountability court and perpetual arrest warrants were issued for him.


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