NAB arrests Saad, Salman in Paragon Housing scam case

.LAHORE: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) arrested Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Khawaja Saad Rafique and his brother Salman Rafique in connection to the Paragon Housing Society scam.

The PML-N leader and his brother were arrested after the Lahore High Court (LHC) rejected their request for an extension in their pre-arrest bail in the case pertaining to the housing society scam, a NAB spokesperson said.

“The court’s decision confirmed substantive evidence against NAB suspects,” the accountability watchdog spokesperson said.

Earlier today, a two-judge bench headed by Justice Tariq Abbasi heard the petition of the brothers seeking an extension in their pre-arrest bail. Initially, the court extended their bail till December 13, however, the bench later rejected their petitions.

Following the LHC’s decision, NAB took the brothers into custody.

NAB had summoned the former railways minister and his brother on October 16 in the case related to the Paragon Housing scam. The two brothers had moved the Islamabad High Court to provide protective bail but it had rejected their request and advised them to approach the LHC. 

The LHC had earlier granted the brothers pre-arrest bail and they had appeared before NAB multiple times for questioning in connection to the case.

Rafique brothers’ petition against NAB DG Lahore

Further, the two-judge bench also heard Rafique brothers’ petition to transfer their case from NAB DG Lahore Saleem Shahzad to another bureau.

Last month, the PML-N leader had requested NAB chairman Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal to transfer their case to another bureau as Shahzad was “no longer an independent person” and could not be trusted to conduct a transparent inquiry.

During today’s hearing, the NAB prosecutor informed the court, “NAB chairman has rejected their petition.”

NAB allegations

Following their arrests, NAB Lahore issued a press release and stated that “Accused Saad Rafique along with his benamidaar wife Ghazala Saad Rafique, brother Salman Rafique in association with Qaiser Amin Butt and Nadeem Zia established a housing project in the name of Air Avenue which was converted into a new housing project namely M/S Paragon City Pvt Limited. Record shows that M/S Paragon City is an illegal society.”

“Accused in collusion, connivance and collaboration of Qaiser Amin Butt and Nadeem Zia cheated the members of public at large and obtained illegal pecuniary benefits from the funds of said illegal housing project,” it added.

Further, it stated, “Accused is operating this illegal housing project through his associates/ co-accused persons who are collecting deposits from general public despite clear directions from LDA that this project is unapproved.”

“Accused has been and is continuously obtaining illegal/ illegitimate funds/ benefits from said project as he obtained 40 kanal plots in his own name and the name of his brother Salman Rafique.”

The press release continued, “Accused by misusing his official position continued the expansion and marketing of illegal housing project and also obtained undue benefits in the form of sale of numbers of commercial plots worth billions of rupees which were actually not owned by M/S Paragon City. Thus the buyers have been cheated through this action of corruption and corrupt practices.”

Arrests a political revenge by present govt: Aurangzeb

Reacting to the arrests, PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb termed it political revenge by the present government.

“Saad Rafique had submitted a request in the LHC to shift the inquiry from DG NAB Lahore to anyone else in the bureau. He had made this request before as well,” she stated.

She questioned why NAB did not have the time to conduct inquiries of the Malam Jabba resorts, private use of helicopters by Imran Khan, EOBI, iron ores of Chiniot and Jahangir Tareen.

She added that this type of political revenge takes place when a mandate is stolen.