LAHORE - The National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) on Wednesday told the Lahore High Court that Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif unlawfully exercised his authority in the matters of Ashiana-e-Iqbal Housing Scheme.

NAB Special Prosecutor Muhammad Akram Qureshi appeared before an LHC division bench headed by Justice Malik Shahzad Ahmad Khan in bail petitions filed by Shahbaz Sharif and senior bureaucrat Fawad Hassan Fawad.

The special prosecutor argued that Ashiana’s first contract was awarded by the Punjab Land Development Company (PLDC) board who was an independent body for running the affairs of the company, but it did not take any action over the contract matter. He submitted that then chief minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif took notice of the Ashiana contract and passed  various orders despite the fact that he did not have any authority in this regard.

He submitted that first Ashiana contract was not only cancelled without any reason but also orders were issued for encashment of the contractor’s (Latif & Sons) bank guarantee.

He submitted that Rs5.9 million was paid as compensation to Latif & Sons despite the pendency of their civil suit. He claimed that all the said decisions were made by Shahbaz Sharif while PLDC board did not take any action in this regard. He alleged that all these illegal orders were got implemented through then secretary implementation Fawad Hassan Fawad who received money from Kamran Kiyani.

He argued that instead of adopting an appropriate method for re-awarding the tender later, the contract was given to a proxy who was run by Paragon developers and they were not only given Rs200 million as advance but the land was also transferred to them. He submitted that initially the project cost was about Rs1.5 billion.

At this stage, the bench asked the prosecutor how much money was spent on other Ashiana projects and how much subsidy was given by the government in this regard.

To which, the prosecutor sought time for producing the said details. At this, the bench adjourned hearing of the cases till February 11.

The special prosecutor raised objection that another bench heard the bail petitions of co-accused, at the outset of hearing and submitted that only the same bench could hear the instant cases as per a Supreme Court judgement. He submitted that co-accused had also approached the apex court against rejection of their bail petitions.

However, the bench asked the prosecutor to advance his arguments.

Earlier, during the proceedings, Advocate Azam Nazir Tarar on behalf of Fawad Hassan Fawad argued that the bureau had arrested his client on charges of getting the first Ashiana contract cancelled and receiving money from Kamran Kiyani for the purpose. The counsel argued that Ashiana-e-Iqbal’s first contract was not cancelled but it finished after a mutual settlement between the parties.

He submitted that Fawad’s brother had business relations with Kamran Kiyani and many business transactions took place between them whereas Fawad had no role in this regard.

However, another NAB prosecutor, Faisal Bukhari, argued that Fawad Hassan Fawad exercised illegal authority and forced then CEO PLDC Tahir Khurshid to cancel the contract of Ashiana. He further alleged that the accused received Rs 55 million from Kamran Kiyani for the purpose.