UK's National Crime Agency agrees to £190m settlement with Malik Riaz's family

Published December 3, 2019
"The £190 million settlement is the result of an investigation by the NCA into Malik Riaz Hussain, a Pakistani national, whose business is one of the biggest private sector employers in Pakistan." – AFP/File
"The £190 million settlement is the result of an investigation by the NCA into Malik Riaz Hussain, a Pakistani national, whose business is one of the biggest private sector employers in Pakistan." – AFP/File

The National Crime Agency (NCA) of the United Kingdom has agreed to a settlement worth £190 million with the family of property tycoon Malik Riaz.

"The £190 million settlement is the result of an investigation by the NCA into Malik Riaz Hussain, a Pakistani national, whose business is one of the biggest private sector employers in Pakistan," read a statement by the agency.

The NCA has accepted a settlement offer of £190 million, which includes a UK property – 1 Hyde Park Place, London, W2 2LH – valued at approximately £50 million and all of the funds in the frozen accounts.

The assets will be returned to the State of Pakistan.

"In August 2019, eight account freezing orders were secured at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in connection with funds totalling 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," said the agency.

The Assets Recovery Unit (ARU) also confirmed the development, saying that UK's NCA had "agreed to an out of court settlement [...] with a Pakistani family that owns large property developments in Pakistan and elsewhere".

A statement, released from the office of Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Accountability Shahzad Akbar, said that Britain had agreed to an "immediate repatriation" of the funds received after the settlement and hailed it as a "success story of close cooperation between the United Kingdom and Pakistan’s multiple law enforcement agencies and efforts made since last year’s Justice and Accountability Partnership created between the two countries".

According to ARU's statement, the court proceedings were "against the funds themselves, not against any named individual".

"The settlement is a civil matter and does not represent a finding of guilt," the statement emphasised.

Furthermore, the ARU revealed that the property included in the settlement was sold to the family in 2016 by Hassan Nawaz, former premier Nawaz Sharif's son.

Earlier this year in March, the Supreme Court of Pakistan accepted an offer of Bahria Town (Pvt) Ltd – owned by Malik Riaz – to settle cases pertaining to its Malir or Karachi Superhighway project in lieu of payment of Rs460 billion.

The deal was struck when the counsel representing the developer agreed to enhance their offer to Rs460bn from the earlier Rs450bn.

“The offer is accepted,” Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed had declared after a brief hearing about implementation of the court’s judgement of May 4, 2018 in which it was held that grant of land to the Malir Development Authority (MDA) by the Sindh government, its exchange with the land of private land developers (Bahria Town) and anything done under provisions of the Colonisation of Government Land Act 1912 by the provincial government was illegal and of no legal existence.

The acceptance of the offer by the apex court restrained the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) from filing references against the directors and officials of Bahria Town. However, in case of default in payment of the settlement amount during the period agreed to under the deal (which has been reduced to seven years from eight), NAB will be free to file corruption references against the developer, but after prior permission of the court.

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