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June 11, 2019

Notice to NAB on Khwaja brothers’ bail pleas

Lahore

June 11, 2019

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Monday issued notice to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on petitions of former minister for railways Khwaja Saad Rafiq and his brother former provincial minister Khwaja Salman Rafiq seeking temporarily bail to attend upcoming budget sessions of the national and provincial assemblies respectively.

The Khwaja brothers are in jail on judicial remand since Feb 2 last for their alleged involvement in Paragon City scam. Pleading the petitions, the counsel of the two brothers contended before a two-judge bench that his clients were supposed to attend the upcoming budget sessions following production orders by speakers of the relevant assembly.

However, he said the parliamentarians would not be able to consult economists or budget experts during their release on production orders. And such consultation was critical to present recommendations during the budget sessions, he added.

Therefore, the counsel asked the court that the petitioners should be released on temporary bail enabling them to attend the budget sessions in an effective manner. The bench issued notice to the National Accountability Bureau and adjourned hearing for June 11 (today). Main bail petitions of the Khwaja brothers are also pending before the bench.

The National Accountability Bureau had arrested them on December 11, 2018 after the Lahore High Court had withdrawn the pre-arrest bail they enjoyed for almost three months. The bureau recently filed a reference against the Khwaja brothers accusing them of wrongfully gaining Rs18.2 million approximately from M/s Paragon City (pvt) Limited in their bank accounts.

The reference said the Khwaja brothers through their “benamidars” and with the abetment of former MPA Qaiser Amin Butt and Nadeem Zia established a housing project in the name of Air Avenue.

The project was later converted into a new housing project namely Paragon City Pvt Ltd, which the National Accountability Bureau said was an illegal society and not approved by the Lahore Development Authority. The National Accountability Bureau alleged that the suspects along with other accomplices cheated public at large and obtained illegal financial benefits from the funds of the illegal society.

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