LONDON: The Pakistan High Commission in London this week became embroiled in a controversy between a Washington-based asset recovery firm that is owed money by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
According to reports, a high court in the United Kingdom has ordered a debit of $28.7 million from the accounts of the Pakistan High Commission in London over non-payment of penalty by NAB to the foreign firm.
High Commission sources confirmed the development to Dawn and said the matter had been referred to the attorney general for Pakistan and NAB for further action. They also said the deadline for the payment of the penalty owed to the firm was December 31.
Broadsheet LLC, a company that was registered in the Isle of Man in the Pervez Musharraf era, helped the-then government and newly established NAB track down foreign assets purchased through alleged ill-gotten wealth.
The company had filed a claim with the London High Court on behalf of the company to enforce the payment of the outstanding $22m owed to the firm. Last year, a claim filed with the high court showed that the company has applied for permission to enforce the London court’s judgement that the company should be paid $22m by the government of Pakistan. Broadsheet had also asked for an interest of $4,758 per day to be applied.
Controversy involves Pakistan’s anti-graft watchdog and US-based asset recovery firm
In Dec 2018, former English court of appeal Judge Sir Anthony Evans QC, as sole arbitrator, issued an order for payment of $22m to Broadsheet by the government of Pakistan. In July this year, the government appealed the arbitration, but was unsuccessful in its bid.
The arbitrator found that Pakistan and NAB had wrongfully repudiated an asset recovery agreement with Broadsheet and ruled that the company is entitled to damages.
Owned by Iranian-born former Oxford University academic Kaveh Moussavi, Broadsheet is now under the supervision of a court-appointed liquidator who initially funded the arbitration and previously served a yearlong prison sentence in England for contempt of court in unrelated proceedings.
Broadsheet claims that it was established to enter into an Asset Recovery Agreement dated June 20, 2000, and did so with the-then president of Pakistan, through the NAB chairman, for the purposes of recovering funds and other assets fraudulently taken from the state and other institutions, including through corrupt practices, and held outside of Pakistan.
Broadsheet maintains that it was created to be a company specialising in the recovery of assets and funds, and was therefore engaged to trace, locate and transfer such items back to the state.
Broadsheet’s services were terminated in 2003 by NAB, but the company says that it learnt that the accountability body struck a deal with the Sharifs which allowed them to live in self-exile in Saudi Arabia, and filed a claim on the settlement.
According to its lawyer, the company’s services were sought by Gen Musharraf to hunt down overseas properties owned by the Sharifs and other government officials.
Published in Dawn, January 1st, 2021