LAHORE: An accountability court in Lahore on Thursday extended judicial remand of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader and Member of the National Assembly (MNA) Khawaja Saad Rafique and his brother Salman Rafique till May 16 in the Paragon Housing Society scam.
Accountability court judge Syed Najam-ul Hassan presided over the hearing; however Saad Rafique couldn’t appear in the court today as he is in Islamabad.
When the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Lahore officials produced Salman Rafique in the court, the judge ordered to immediately take him back to the detention cell by stating “the complete city has been locked down.”
Meanwhile, a heavy contingent of police was deployed around the court to prevent party workers from disrupting law and order situation during their appearance.
The Khawaja brothers have been accused of embezzling nearly Rs2 billion.
In all previous hearings, the defence counsel had repeatedly maintained before the court that the details of banking transactions of the last ten years had been handed over to the NAB.
However, NAB’s prosecutor had informed the court that according to records of the Paragon Housing Society an amount of Rs2 billion was transferred to sons of Salman Rafique and Nadeem Zia.
Moreover, the Khawaja brothers are also accused of embezzlement in the scheme by exchanging 50 kanals of their land for 20 two-kanal plots each owned by the Paragon City.
Earlier on April 26, the NAB Lahore approved the filing of a reference against the Khawaja brothers and Nadeem Zia for the alleged corruption in the same case.
The decision was taken in a regional board meeting that was attended by NAB Lahore’s director general and other directors.
According to the handout, Qaiser Amin Butt, the director of Paragon Housing Society, was also included in the inquiry initiated by the NAB, and he was also arrested in November last year. Later, he agreed to turn approver against the Khawaja brothers and Zia.
Butt and Zia established a company “Air Avenue” in the year 2003; however the name was later changed to Paragon City private (Pvt) Limited.
Earlier on Feb 2, the court had rejected a request made by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for another extension in the physical remand of the Khawaja brothers in the case, and sent them on judicial remand.
On December 11, 2018, they were detained by the accountability watchdog after the Lahore High Court (LHC) rejected their bail plea.
The NAB had launched an investigation into the alleged scam in November last year after a number of victims staged protests and held a press conference at the Lahore Press Club against what they termed the housing society’s fraud.—NNI