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October 9, 2015

NAB arrests housing society owners for fraud

Lahore

October 9, 2015

LAHORE
NAB Thursday arrested Zahoor Ahmad Wattoo, an owner of Formanites Housing Scheme, on charges of cheating public at large.
The NAB had started probe into the matters of Formanites Housing Society Lahore in 2011 on charges of cheating buyers by selling ‘fake’ plots. Over 1100 affectees had filed complaints with NAB, Lahore against Zahoor Ahmad Wattoo and his brother Abdul Ghafoor Wattoo, owners of Formanites Housing Scheme. The NAB had calculated a total loss of Rs 1.5 billion in the scam.
The management of the housing society is accused of selling hundreds of plots on land that is not part of 1,200-kanal approved by the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) for the society.
Ghafoor and Zahoor were directors of the company. Majority of the claimants were promised plots in Phase-II of the housing scheme which was never existed there.
Zahoor was arrested after NAB rejected a request of Wattoo Brothers to return the original money they had received from the claimants, amounting Rs145 million. NAB authorities had asked them to return the money with current market rates instead of original which was calculated (approximately) as Rs1.5 billion. The accused person will be produced before Accountability Court on Friday (today) for obtaining physical remand.
NAB sources also claimed that other accused Manzoor Wattoo would be arrested soon.
It is learnt that during the initial probe, the accused had also assured NAB to hand over 42 plots they had in Phase-I of their housing society.
A NAB official told The News on Thursday that the accused had launched Formanites Housing Scheme in 1997 and lured the general public to invest and purchase plots in the housing society. In the subject housing scheme illegalities committed by the accused persons were massive in number and magnitude. The number of plots sold out to the general public was far greater than those existed in the approved plan.
In 2003, the provincial minister for Housing

and Physical Planning Syed Raza Ali Gilani had inaugurated the Formanites Housing Society and LDA authorised its management to sell 1,119.30 kanals.
However, he claimed, it illegally sold over 3,900 kanals. However, the management of Formanites Housing Society insisted that the scheme was launched to benefit the low-income people by providing them housing on easy installments. They also claimed that society spans 2,277 kanals, out of which 60 per cent was for residential plots, while the rest had been earmarked for roads, parks, commercial centres, educational institutions and other facilities.
Moreover, he said, there were frequent instances of duplication and cancellation of plots without any justification and plausible reason. Further, land reserved for amenities was illegally transformed into residential and commercial plots and sold out to the general public. Public was forced to pay excessive development charges.
“In 2003-2004, the accused allegedly illegally started booking and selling plots in Phase-II of the subject housing scheme for which no land was specified in the first place and continued the practice recklessly over a long period”, he maintained.

Ghafoor and Zahoor, owners of a TV channel, deprived the general public of their hard money and used the ill-gotten money for their personal gains. The accused amassed huge assets and utilised the money to open new ventures.