LAHORE - Former Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) chairman Asif Hashmi was arrested and produced before a court over corruption charges by the National Accountability Bureau.

The NAB said that Asif Hashmi illegally approved Rs1870 million as investment with M/s High Links (Pvt) Limited. The accused served as ETPB chairman from 2007 to 2013 and fled the country in 2016.

According to NAB authorities, Hashmi bypassed all the defined prerequisites for investment with any company or other private entity, and approved investment worth Rs1870 million with M/s High Links (Pvt) Limited.

The officials said that Hashmi selected M/s High Links for investment in order to extend undue financial gratifications to the same under alleged connivance with co-accused without any regard to law. They told the court that the accused chaired all investment committee meetings held during 2009-12 and gave approval of hefty amount for the said illegal investment and caused a huge loss to the state kitty.

They also alleged that he intentionally kept the concerned ministry in dark and misappropriated millions of rupees. Hashmi was also accused of selling 1,946 Kanals of land of the board to DHA on 25 per cent exemption basis in 2009, whereas the same land was recommended by former ETPB chairman Gen Zulfiqar Ali Khan on 33 per cent exemption basis to DHA in 2001.

The land was situated in Dera Chahal, Lidher and Mota and difference of 8 per cent caused loss of Rs 2 billion while another 225 Kanals was evacuated from DHA which was occupied in connivance with ETPB officials and Hashmi team.

The then chief justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Chaudhry took suo motu notice of this shady deal. During a hearing on the case, the then-CJP had observed that ETPB made an illegal agreement by closing their eyes and added that in accordance with the constitution and law the ETPB land could neither be sold nor could be exchanged with other land.

Representing Hashmi during proceedings before the court on Tuesday, advocates Haneef Tahir and Sohail Dar said he had nothing to do with the allegations leveled against him. They said the investment was allowed by a three-member committee while two-members of the same committee were appointed by the federal government. They said that being chairman of the board, he just signed on three cheques. They opposed his physical remand.

However, NAB prosecutor Hafiz Asad Ullah said that Hashmi misused his authority and was summoned nine times by the NAB but he did not appear before it. He said he fled the country and now he was arrested by the FIA. The NAB then took Hashmi into its custody. The prosecutor pleaded the court to allow his 15-day physical remand. After hearing both sides, Judge Muhammad Azam allowed 15-day physical remand of Hashmi and ordered NAB authorities to produce him again on April 04.