LONDON: Broadsheet LLC owner Kaveh Moussavi’s allegations that the Sharif family approached him with a bribe has made a splash in the media, as the state-owned news agency Associated Press of Pakistan ran a headline based on the lawyer’s claim in a video interview this week.
Several newspapers carried this story and it became the focus of discussions on social media as well as talk shows.
Among other allegations levelled against former premier Nawaz Sharif, the asset recovery firm’s owner Mr Moussavi claimed that a person who claimed to be associated with Mr Sharif approached him in 2012 and offered a sum of money to drop the probe against him.
Broadsheet’s Moussavi says he met an individual named Anjum Dar twice; Hussain Nawaz denies any offer
Speaking to Dawn, Mr Moussavi repeated the allegations. He said: “A gentleman named Anjum Dar purporting to be Nawaz Sharif’s nephew turned up in 2012. I met him twice, once in Canterbury and then in London.” He said the individual offered him $25 million.
“He showed me a picture of him hugging Nawaz Sharif at home and sitting with him. He produced a tape recording as well — it was in Urdu so I didn’t know what it was saying.”
In response to a question about whether he considered the offer, Mr Moussavi said: “When we realised that he was basically offering some money for us to go away, my response was that any money being offered should come by way of lawyers in the arbitration.”
When asked why he did not report the development to authorities in the United Kingdom, or to the court-appointed arbitrator he said: “I certainly discussed it with lawyers but we decided not to take it up with the authorities.” He did not elaborate on why, but when asked who the gentleman is, he said to ask the Sharif family.
On the question of why the Sharifs or their representative would offer him a bribe in 2012, many years after his asset recovery contract with the government had ended in 2003, Mr Moussavi said: “We were in arbitration and the arbitrator would have to probe into the whole issue. They didn’t want that to come up.
Commenting on the development, Mr Sharif’s son, Hussain Nawaz, told Dawn: “This is absolutely not true. We have no relative named Anjum Dar. If an individual claiming such a thing had come to him [Moussavi] was it difficult for his investigative company to determine who he is before making such an allegation?”
He added: “Nawaz Sharif has two brothers and one sister and all their children’s names are in the public domain. Is Mr Moussavi such a poor investigator that he wasn’t able to determine this simple fact even after nine years?”
In an interview aired this week, the Broadsheet owner made corruption allegations against the Sharifs and offered his services to the Pakistan government to hire his company to investigate the family’s properties in Avenfield House. The government does not appear to be interested in his offers, and is reeling from the recent forced payment of nearly $29 million to Broadsheet LLC after a court order.
In another startling claim during the interview, a full recording of which is with Dawn, Mr Moussavi also alleged that an individual he met in 2018 regarding a $1 billion bank account was more interested in getting his cut than in investigating suspects.
“There was a delegation that came to London [in 2018] to discuss with the National Crime Agency money that had been frozen under an unexplained wealth order. At that time, I was asked to meet, and I did meet, at Cafe Rouge in North London, a gentleman who had all the documents. We said fine we will forget about the money you owe us on the judgement, let’s work together. They were skeptical… then I said I know of an account that has a billion dollars. They wanted to know ‘what is our cut’?”
The Broadsheet owner said Mr Shahzad Akbar, whom he also met with, may not have been aware of this individual’s question about a commission. He also said a man who said he was a general met with him at the time, but that he did not reveal his name.
A day earlier, Mr Akbar told this correspondent the government was not interested in Broadsheet LLC’s services as “it had skimmed Pakistan without giving anything”.
Broadsheet LLC, a company incorporated in the Isle of Man in 2000, was hired by elements in the Musharraf government the same year to probe and retrieve the alleged foreign assets of politicians and businessmen in Pakistan. According to its owner, the Sharif family was a major target of the government and that he later expanded his search to include 200 ‘targets’ and their suspected overseas properties.
Moussavi names Sherpao
In his earlier interview, Mr Moussavi alleged that though the Musharraf government had engaged his firm to probe certain individuals, it later requested that Broadsheet LLC drop some names from their investigation. He had hinted that one such request was made about a man who was later appointed interior minister by Musharraf.
“It was Sherpao,” he alleged, referring to Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, who served as a minister in 2004.
Published in Dawn, January 12th, 2021
Correction: An earlier version of this report said that the Pakistani man Mr Moussavi met came with Shahzad Akbar. Mr Akbar has denied this. He clarified that it may be someone whom Mr Moussavi met separately. Mr Akbar further clarified that he met Mr Moussavi in 2019 twice and not in 2018. Context of his meeting was to negotiate the award price and trying to reduce the payable amount.