Paragon Housing scam: Court extends Khawaja brothers’ judicial remand till Sept 17

LAHORE, Sept 13 (INP): An accountability court in Lahore on Friday extended the judicial remand of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) leader and Member of the National Assembly (MNA) Khawaja Saad Rafique and his brother Salman Rafique till September 17 in the Paragon Housing Society scam.

Judge Jawad ul Hassan heard the case as the Khawaja brothers were produced before the court after their judicial remand ended. Former Attorney General of Pakistan and senior counsel Ashtar Ausaf filed his vakalatnama on behalf of Khawaja Saad Rafique.

NAB special prosecutor Ali Sultan Tipu submitted written reply against the acquittal petition of the Khawaja brothers who have pleaded not guilty in the case. The court has also summoned the counsels to argue over the acquittal plea of the accused in the next hearing.

Let it be known that Khawaja brothers were indicted in the previous hearing. The suspects filed a petition to acquit them after nullifying the decision and claimed that the case against them is based on lies.

Meanwhile, a heavy contingent of police was deployed around the court to prevent any untoward incident.

The Khawaja brothers have been accused of embezzling nearly Rs2 billion.

In all previous hearings, their defense counsel had repeatedly maintained before the court that the details of banking transactions of the last ten years had been handed over to the NAB.

However, NAB’s prosecutor had informed the court that according to records of the Paragon Housing Society an amount of Rs2 billion was transferred to sons of Salman Rafique and Nadeem Zia.

Moreover, the Khawaja brothers are also accused of embezzlement in the scheme by exchanging 50 kanals of their land for 20 two-kanal plots each owned by the Paragon City.

Earlier on April 26, the NAB Lahore approved the filing of a reference against the Khawaja brothers and Nadeem Zia for the alleged corruption in the same case.

The decision was taken in a regional board meeting that was attended by NAB Lahore’s director general and other directors.

According to the handout, Qaiser Amin Butt, the director of Paragon Housing Society, was also included in the inquiry initiated by the NAB, and he was also arrested in November last year. Later, he agreed to turn approver against the Khawaja brothers and Zia.

Butt and Zia established a company “Air Avenue” in the year 2003; however the name was later changed to Paragon City private (Pvt) Limited.

Earlier on Feb 2, the court had rejected a request made by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for another extension in the physical remand of the Khawaja brothers in the case, and sent them on judicial remand.

On December 11, 2018, they were detained by the accountability watchdog after the Lahore High Court (LHC) rejected their bail plea.

The NAB had launched an investigation into the alleged scam in November last year after a number of victims staged protests and held a press conference at the Lahore Press Club against what they termed the housing society’s fraud.