Khawaja brothers indicted in Paragon Housing scam


LAHORE: An accountability court on Wednesday indicted Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) leaders Khawaja Saad Rafique and his brother Khawaja Salman Rafique in the ongoing Paragon Housing Society case.

During the previous hearing on August 20, the indictment of the Khawaja brothers was delayed due to non-provision of readable copies of the reference to the suspects by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

Subsequently, judge Syed Jawadul Hassan extended their judicial remand till September 4.

The judge was told that the suspects were present in the court and the prosecution was ready for framing charges on them. However, defense counsel Amjad Pervez informed the court that the copies of the reference and related documents supplied to the suspects were “not readable”.

Pervez noted the court could not indict the suspects unless readable copies of the case documents were provided to the suspects by the NAB. To which, the judge directed the prosecutor to supply clearer documents to the suspects without any delay.

Judge regretted that the indictment of the suspects had been delayed on one pretext or the other and fixed Sept 4 for the indictment while adjourning the hearing.

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

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

Earlier on April 26, 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.