LAHORE – The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has taken four more officers of the Punjab Land Development Company (PLDC) into custody in Ashiana-e-Iqbal housing scheme case.
NAB officials say those arrested included the incumbent Lahore Development Authority Chief Engineer Israr Saeed, incumbent Punjab Land Development Company (PLDC) Chief Engineer Col (retd) Arif, former CEO PLDC Imtiaz Haider and Bilal Qadwai, another PLDC official who was working as the economic specialist in Strategic Planning Unit for the Ashiana-e-Iqbal housing scheme.
The probing body interrogated the arrested officers for over nine hours after detaining them on Friday night. They were presented in the court on Saturday for physical remand.
All the accused, according to NAB, were already summoned in the ongoing probe into the Ashiana Housing scam for recording their statements. Officials said none of them could justify their alleged role in the award of the contract of Ashiana-e-Iqbal project to M/s Lahore Casa Developers, which is a proxy group of M/s Paragon City (Pvt) Limited.
“We had summoned the four accused and they were questioned for several hours. After they failed to clarify the charges levelled against them, they were formally arrested,” the NAB officials said.
NAB started probe into the housing scheme after finding out that officials in the Punjab government ordered “cancellation of award of contract of Ashiana-e-Iqbal to successful bidder Ch Latif and Sons, leading to award of contract to Lahore Casa Developers (JV), a proxy of Paragon City (Pvt) Limited, which resulted in the loss of Rs193 million approximately”.
A statement by the anti-graft body read that Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif directed PLDC to award consultancy services of Aashiana-e-Iqbal project for Rs192 million approximately, but its actual cost was Rs35 million.
Prior to the arrest of the four officers, NAB also arrested others, including former director general of LDA, Ahad Cheema, and Shahid Shafiq, chief executive officer of Bismillah Engineering Company, a C-4 category organisation part of the joint venture Lahore Casa Developers that was ineligible for the contract.
Cheema is in NAB custody for the last couple of weeks.