LAHORE - An accountability court on Saturday extended the physical remand of PML-N leaders Khawaja Saad Rafique and his brother Salman Rafique for 15 days on the request of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in the Paragon Housing Society scam.

NAB officials presented them before the court amidst tight security and sought a 15-day extension in their physical remand. Saad was earlier on transit remand after his production orders were issued by the National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser. He was brought to Lahore from Islamabad where he had been since December 20 to attend the NA session.

During the hearing, NAB Prosecutor Waris Ali Janjua told the court that Qaiser Amin Butt said in his statement that the Rafique brothers were the owners of Paragon City.

He told the court that during their 10-day remand, the NAB asked Khawaja brothers about the money they got from Executive Builders, and also asked about the names of people whom the accused provided with services. He said that they had not replied to the questions about it. He added, “We have to record the statements of these people but Khawaja brothers are not wiling to tell us about it. One Farman Ali is operating the accounts of Executive Builders and Paragon City. And an amount of Rs2million to Rs6 million has been transferred to Kh Saad’s account directly from Paragon City. Kh Saad told us that it was commission money but did not disclose that against which land transaction, the money was transferred to his account.”

The NAB official further said that Shahid Butt, the owner of a block in the society, had stated that Kh Saad had sold his commercial property. However, Kh Saad said, “Nobody’s money is outstanding against us.”

The official further informed the court that under the housing project, commercial plots worth Rs2 billion were illegally sold. Moreover, he said, patwaris have told the accountability watchdog that 40 kanals of government land was also sold. He said that about 100 victims had contacted the NAB against the accused. “We have to record the statements of those who bought this land,” he said.

Khawaja brothers’ counsel Amjad Pervaiz opposed the extension of their remand. He argued that his clients’ relations with Executive Builders were relic of the past now. He said his clients had provided the NAB with the numbers of homes sold and their owners.

After hearing the arguments of both the sides, Special Judge Accountability Court Syed Najamul Hassan extended their physical remand for 15 days. Now they will be presented before court on January 5.

Heavy contingent of police was deployed on all the roads leading to the Judicial Complex where the special accountability court is situated. The roads were kept blocked for production of the PML-N leaders before the court for hearing.

As per the NAB, “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 said.

It adds, “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.”