LONDON: Anti-corruption watchdog, Spotlight on Corruption, has called on the United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency (NCA) to make a public statement about its 2019 out-of-court settlement with property tycoon Malik Riaz Hussain, saying that it is concerned the settlement is “now at the heart of political turmoil and allegations of corruption in Pakistan”.
“Given the extensive disinformation and partisan reporting of the case which is leading to serious social unrest, it is essential that the NCA make a public statement about the settlement, and release the underlying settlement document,” a statement posted to the watchdog’s website read.
In 2019, too, the watchdog had raised concerns on the way in which the funds were returned to Pakistan. It had stated it appeared that Mr Hussain himself was the beneficiary of the funds he paid as part of the settlement with the NCA, by reducing his liabilities to the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
“It is our view that the NCA should never allow itself to be influenced by a foreign state in how it concludes its investigations in this way again,” it said.
The watchdog also called on the UK to “look beyond Russia”. “The ease with which corrupt elites from Pakistan of whatever party have been able to come and go, buy property, or hold political fundraising events in the UK, without a credible law enforcement or political response is a shocking indictment of how we continue to turn a blind eye to our role in enabling kleptocracy around the world,” the statement added.
Dawn has learnt that the NCA is refraining from making a public statement at the request of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), which is concerned about political situation in Pakistan. However, both the FCDO and NCA did not respond to requests for comment.
Published in Dawn, May 28th, 2023