National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Wednesday sought the record of the deal for repatriation of Rs50 billion to Pakistan between Bahria Town and UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) from the Prime Minister’s Office, SAMAA TV reported.
The apex anti-graft body sought the record from the Prime Minister’s Office through a letter sent on Wednesday.
In the letter, the bureau has sought record to examine the role of the PM Office’s assets recovery unit and ex-SAPM on accountability Mirza Shahzad Akbar’s role in the deal.
The apex anti-graft body directed the PM Office to provide details of the secret agreement between Bahria Town and NCA.
Along with it, it also sought details of staff deployed in the assets recovery unit.
What happened to Hyde Park London deal?
The government of Pakistan made an agreement with M/S Bahria Town Pvt Ltd that an expensive property located in heart of London would be sold out, and its amount would be transferred to Pakistan.
This deal came after M/S Bahria Town Pvt Ltd did an out-of-court settlement with British National Crime Agency in a case where the latter frozen an amount of some 140 million GBP Pounds including 1-Hyde Park London property purchased by Ali Riaz Malik.
As per the documents of the ARU obtained by SAMAA TV, the UK government issued Account Freezing Orders (AFOs) of approximately £20 million GBP Pounds that were transacted by two Pakistani nationals, Ali Riaz Malik and Mubashara Malik on December 14, 2018.
The NCA sought details of any pending cases, inquiries, and investigations against the named individuals, and the ARU and allied agencies provided the required support. Thereafter, the NCA initiated action in relation to the bank accounts and learned that 1 Hyde Park Place, a prime London property, was recently purchased by the family.
Subsequently, on August 12, 2019, the NCA further froze approximately £119.7 million GBP Pounds in various banks in the UK belonging to the same individuals and other family members.
During the pendency of this investigation and provision of the initial letters by the ARU, the Supreme Court settled the matter of Bahria Town (Private) Ltd in lieu of the agreed sum to be paid by Messrs Bahria Town (Private) Ltd and suspended related criminal cases, the documents read.
In the same spirit, the respondents in the case approached the NCA through their counsels in the UK and made an offer for an out-of-court settlement under which the total sum of £139.7 Million GBP Pounds, which included all the frozen accounts to be surrendered and repatriated to Pakistan against their liability in light of the court’s orders.
The documents read, “It was also agreed under the settlement agreement that the Respondents will surrender 1 Hyde Park Place to an independent agent to sell and repatriate the funds to the State of Pakistan in the similar manner stated above within a maximum period of two years.”
“The settlement agreement (the Framework Agreement) was entered into between all the respondents and the NCA. The government of Pakistan through the ARU facilitated the initial freezing order, however, the NCA and the Respondents’ decision to settle out of court has its own merits and was agreed by the NCA on its own.”
“The investigation and subsequent litigation in this case could have easily taken five to seven years with substantial costs in the form of legal fees and any purported pursuance by the government of Pakistan. Additionally, there is no guarantee that the eventual result of this litigation would be favorable to the NCA or the government of Pakistan. It is pertinent to mention that the AFOs and any subsequent litigation is of civil nature and, therefore, would not have any criminal liability involved.”
Pakistan’s government through ARU also pleaded its claim for repatriation of funds to Pakistan. As in the case of the success of this process, the money should have been returned to Pakistan. The UK government had already agreed to the repatriation of the funds to Pakistan and the NCA subsequently signed a settlement agreement with the respondents, which includes clauses under the given scheme.
“The agreements have been executed and as per the terms of the agreement, the NCA has moved before the court to lift the AFOs, where after the money will be repatriated to the stipulated accounts of Pakistan,” the document said.
As per the general policy of the NCA and the terms of the settlement agreement, the details are confidential matters and shall not be publicized unless required by law while the Pakistani government is required to sign a non-disclosure ‘Deed of Confidentiality’ under which the details of the settlement agreement cannot be made public.
It added that as per the requirement under the Constitution of Pakistan, the approval of the federal government was sought through the cabinet for the confidentiality deed.
Earlier, it was confirmed by SAMAA TV’s Special Investigation Unit chief Zahid Gishkori that the government of Pakistan was not a party in the £190 million (around Rs50 billion) settlement between the United Kingdom’s anti-money laundering watchdog and a Pakistani property tycoon who was accused of amassing assets from illicit means.