LONDON: Hours after British Home Secretary Sajid Javid signed Justice and Accountability Declaration with Pakistani authorities in Islamabad, UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) arrested an unnamed Pakistani politician and his wife on allegations of money laundering.

The arrest was made by the international corruption unit of the agency and relates to alleged money laundering in the UK “believed to be the result of corruption in Pakistan”. The couple allegedly controls a UK property portfolio with more than 8 million pound for which they appear to have no legitimate source of income.

It is the first arrest of any Pakistani public figure or “politically exposed person (PEP)” after the introduction of Unexp­lained Wealth Order (UWO) initiative launched by the British government earlier this year.

As was the case with some PEPs belonging to a Central Asian country who became first to be subjected to UWO legislation, the exact identity of the Pakistani political personality was not revealed. It was only announced that the PEP aged in his 40s had been arrested along with his wife aged in her 30s.

“Officers from the NCA’s International Corruption Unit have arrested a former Pakistani Politically Exposed Person, aged in his 40s, and his wife, aged in her 30s, in connection with alleged money laundering in the United Kingdom believed to be the result of corruption in Pakistan,” said an NCA statement issued on Monday.

“The investigation has been supported by the National Accountability Bureau and the Federal Investigation Agency in Pakistan. The couple, who were arrested in Surrey, control a UK property portfolio worth more than £8m for which they appear to have no legitimate source of income,” it added.

“The man and his wife were questioned by NCA officers and have now been released under investigation,” it further said.

According to the statement, the ICU, which is principally funded by the Department for International Develo­pment and concentrates its resources where there is a clear link with countries that receive overseas development aid from the UK, investigates serious criminal allegations of bribery and corruption.

“This includes bribery committed either by a UK-based person or company to gain commercial advantage overseas, or the investigation of money laundering in the UK committed by foreign Politically Exposed Persons,” the statement said.

Published in Dawn, September 18th, 2018