The government of the United Kingdom has shared the details of a secret deal between M/s Bahria Town Pvt Ltd and the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) with Pakistan.
The development comes as a major blow to the PTI and Imran Khan, who are trying to keep the deal secret and have gone to court against Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
The PTI government on behalf of Pakistan signed the deal ‘Deed of Confidentiality’ between the NCA and M/s Bahria Town Pvt Ltd, reveal the official documents SAMAA TV’s premier Investigation Unit has had an access to.
The documents also disclose that the PTI government authorized Mirza Shahzad Akbar, the then head of the Assets Recovery Unit, to sign the said agreement on behalf of the state of Pakistan.
A confidential government communication sent by the Foreign Ministry confims that the United Kingdom International Corruption Unit (ICU) sent an official copy of the agreement to Pakistan earlier this month.
The MOFA received on its two official email accounts the emails and enclosed documents purportedly from the International Corruption Unit of NCA of UK, according to a letter written by Ubaid ur Rehman Nizamani, Director General Europe-I to the office of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
“The email states: ‘Please find attached a copy of the Deed of Confidentiality signed by the government of Pakistan in relation to the NCA Settlement with the Riaz family in 2019,’” read the letter by Nizamani.
The contents of the emails sent by the UK show where the information originated.
“This information is supplied in confidence by the NCA. The NCA is not listed as a public authority under the Freedom of Information Act 2000,” read the email by the International Corruption Unit sent to Pakistani MOFA.
The agreement “Deed of Confidentiality” contains the details of foreign accounts and offshore properties of Bahria Town, a Pakistan government official told SAMAA TV.
Ahmad Ali Malik, Malik Riaz Hussain, Bina Malik, Mubbashira Malik, and different offshore and business companies have been made party in this agreement.
Attempts to keep the deal under wraps
The documents supplied the UK government answer a major question: Who signed the agreement on the behalf of Pakistan when the PTI was in power?
“The government of Pakistan hereby warrants to the NCA and the respondents [Ali Riaz Malik, Bahria Town, Malik Riaz Hussain, Bina Malik, Mubashara Malik, etc.] that Mirza Shahzad Akbar is duly authorised to execute the deed for and on behalf of the government of Pakistan,” said the official quoting the deed’s content.
A news release from the NCA at the time of the settlement said that the settlement was valued at £190 million (around Rs50 billion then) and was the result of an investigation by the NCA into property tycoon Malik Riaz Hussain.
“In August 2019 eight account freezing orders were secured at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in connection with funds totaling around £120 million. These followed an earlier freezing order in December 2018 linked to the same investigation for £20 million. All of the account freezing orders relate to money held in UK bank accounts.”
The money was recovered from Bahria Town by the UK authorities and sent to Pakistan but the PTI government allegedly returned it to Bahria Town.
The PDM government under PML-N this month announced that it will investigate the issue of how money was returned to Baharia town and hinted at disclosing the details to the public.
Kingsley Napley, the law firm representing Bahria Town had responded to the PML-N government announcement by saying that the government of Pakistan was breaching the agreement.
On Wednesday, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) sought on Wednesday the record of the Bahria Town-NCA deal from the Prime Minister’s Office.