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June 30, 2018

NAB files reference against Ahad Cheema

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June 30, 2018

LAHORE: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Lahore chapter, on Friday filed a reference against former Director General of Lahore Development Authority (LDA) Ahad Khan Cheema.

Also, the NAB authorities summoned former chief minister Shahbaz Sharif for July 5 in connection with the Punjab Power Development Company (PPDC) and Saaf Pani Company investigation.

The top bureaucrat has been charged with misusing his authority and awarding illegal contracts, which caused a loss of Rs400 billion to the national exchequer. The reference against Ahad Cheema, who is also known as ‘Metro Man’ in bureaucratic circles, consists of 11 volumes and more than 3,000 pages.

The registrar of accountability court has fixed the reference before Accountability Court Judge Najamul Hassan. As per details, the anti-graft body had launched an investigation against the management, officers and officials of the Punjab Land Development Company (PLDC), management and owners of Lahore Casa Developers, officers and officials of the LDA after the government cancelled the award of the Ashiana-e-Iqbal housing scheme to the successful bidder M/s Chaudhry Latif and Sons.

Later, in February, NAB had arrested Cheema over charges of embezzlement in Ashiana Housing Scheme, misuse of his authority and illegal award of Ashiana-e-lqbal project contract worth Rs14 billion to Lahore CASA Developers, which was ineligible. A NAB inquiry revealed that Bismillah Engineering Services Co (a major shareholder of JV titled Lahore CASA Developers) was a proxy firm working on behalf of the Paragon City (Pvt) Ltd. Cheema allegedly received illegal gratification in the form of 32-kanal land worth Rs30.09 million from the owners of Paragon City (Pvt) Ltd.

NAB investigations further revealed that former LDA head Ahad Cheema took benefits from the Paragon City in terms of land. A private transaction revealed that a piece of land was transferred in the name of Cheema and his family members and payments were made by Paragon. Not only Cheema but his family members took illegal benefits from their involvement in a public sector scheme. During his tenure as DG LDA, the bank accounts of Cheema family grew considerably.

During the course of investigation, NAB recovered Rs14.5 million in cash stashed by Ahad Cheema in a car showroom at Jail Road Lahore. During the raid, the Bureau also seized a Land Cruiser worth Rs11 million, owned by Ahad Cheema from the showroom. He is in jail currently on completion of his 90 days physical remand.  

Shahbaz Sharif

National Accountability Bureau Friday again summoned Shahbaz for July 5 in connection with an investigation into alleged embezzlement in the Punjab Power Development Company (PPDC).

The Bureau had already summoned him in Saaf Pani Company scam on the same date. The summon sent to Shahbaz Sharif, copy of which is available with The News, stated that during the inquiry against management of PPDC, “it was revealed that you (Shahbaz Sharif) are in possession of information/ evidence which relates to illegal appointment of Syed Farrukh Ali Shah to National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) as member and as chief executive officer (CEO) to the Punjab Power Development Company (PPDC).”

It has been learnt that the Bureau has also recommended placing the name of Syed Farrukh Ali Shah on the exit control list (ECL). Former CM’s son-in-law Ali Imran Yousaf is also facing investigation for appointing one Naveed Ikram as PPDC CEO, who allegedly committed massive corruption.

The Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) had already carried out a probe against Naveed and Yousaf in 2016. It declared Naveed guilty of embezzling Rs450 million, but gave a ‘clean chit’ to Yousaf.

The ACE, in its investigation, found that Naveed had purchased 19 properties in his and his family members’ names and also unearthed his and his family members’ property worth over one billion rupees. During the probe, it was revealed that Ikram Naveed purchased three floors at Ali Trade Centre, owned by Ali Imran Yousaf.

The PPDC is one of the 56 companies, which are under probe by NAB in connection with embezzlement of billions of rupees. The Punjab government had constituted these companies for good governance and had registered them under Article 42 of the Companies Ordinance 1984.

The apex court had taken a suo motu notice after the auditor general of Pakistan (AGP) had expressed his concerns over financial matters of nearly 51 public sector companies, constituted by the Punjab PML-N government of Shahbaz Sharif. The AGP had suggested stopping the practice of giving these companies funds through SDAs (Special Drawing Allowance).

The NAB chairman had initiated an inquiry in November 2017 after receiving multiple public complaints of alleged corruption, irregularities, waste of public resources, absence of transparency in tendering various projects and regular audits, favouritism in appointments and inordinate delay in completion of different projects under the 56 companies of Punjab.

These companies had allegedly signed several contracts with private firms and that too in an ambiguous manner and by bypassing competition rules. Some of the prominent companies included Punjab Saaf Pani Company, Punjab Agriculture and Meat Company, Lahore Transport Company, Lahore Waste Management Company, Lahore Parking Company, Multan Cattle Market Management Company, Punjab Livestock and Dairy Development Board, and waste management companies in various cities across the province and Punjab Health Facilities Management Company.

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