ISLAMABAD: The family of real estate tycoon Malik Riaz Hussain has expressed concern and displeasure over what it called exposing a ‘confidential’ agreement between the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) and the government of Pakistan regarding recovery of assets worth £190 million (Rs50 billion) of the family in London in a money laundering case.

In an apparent response to a post-federal cabinet meeting press conference addressed by a few federal ministers, including Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, on Tuesday, UK-based law firm Kingsley Napley LLP on Wednesday issued a statement on behalf of its clients (the Riaz family), saying details of a confidential agreement, entered between the NCA and members of Malik Riaz’s family, were released in the presser.

The statement said: “The confidential agreement, dated Nov 6, 2019, provided for two key outcomes: (i) for the NCA to withdraw unconditionally certain civil freezing orders which had been obtained by the NCA over a number of UK bank accounts following a letter from the government of Pakistan to the NCA which made reference to the acquisition in 2007 of the property by Mr Hassan Nawaz, the son of former prime minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif, and its subsequent sale in 2016 to Malik Riaz’s son; (ii) at the sole direction of the account holders, the contents of those bank accounts to be paid against an existing civil debt owed by Malik Riaz’s business, Bahria Town (Private) Limited. The confidential agreement also made provision for the sale of 1, Hyde Park Place and for the proceeds to be paid against the same civil debt.”

Law firm says clients stress agreement was civil matter, didn’t represent guilt

It said the agency was “required to procure” the Pakistan government to execute a deed of confidentiality, and the latter promised to keep both the agreement and related information confidential.

“The family considers it a matter of considerable regret that the government of Pakistan has breached its own undertaking, which it gave to both the NCA and the counter parties,” it added.

The statement further said the family emphasised that the agreement was a civil matter and did not represent a finding of guilt, and it was inked in the public interest.

The federal cabinet had on Tuesday formed a committee to ascertain the alleged involvement of former prime minister Imran Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi in obtaining billions of rupees from Bahria Town for legalising Rs50 billion of laundered money caught by the British authorities and returned to the previous Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government.

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah had accused Mr Khan and his wife of accepting Rs5bn and hundreds of kanals from Bahria Town for protecting the real estate firm in the money laundering case.

In December 2019, the NCA had accepted a settlement offer of £190 million, which included a UK property — 1 Hyde Park Place, London, W2 2LH — valued at approximately £50m and all of the funds in the frozen accounts of Malik Riaz.

The NCA was granted freezing orders on eight bank accounts containing over £100m, which was suspected to have been derived from bribery and corruption in an overseas nation.

Approximately £20m held by a linked individual was frozen following a hearing in December 2018.

Earlier that year in March, a three-judge Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed had accepted a Rs460bn offer by Bahria Town to implement the court’s judgement.

Published in Dawn, June 16th, 2022

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