British Government Lists Pakistan Among Top Money Laundering Sources

British National Crime Agency (NCA) has identified Pakistan, Nigeria and Russia as the top source countries for money laundering in the United Kingdom, according to British media reports. The NCA report says the UK is a prime destination for foreign corrupt and politically exposed people (politicians and their families) to launder money.

NCA Report Highlights:

In its annual assessment of serious and organized crime, the NCA says: “Investment in UK property, particularly in London, continues to be an attractive mechanism to launder funds....As the UK moves towards exiting the EU in March 2019, UK-based businesses may look to increase the amount of trade they have with non-EU countries....We judge this will increase the likelihood that UK businesses will come into contact with corrupt markets, particularly in the developing world, raising the risk they will be drawn into corrupt practices.”

Here are some of the key excerpts of the UK NCA report titled "National Strategic Assessment of Serious and Organized Crime 2018":

1. "The UK is a prime destination for foreign corrupt PEPs (politically exposed persons, a euphemism for politicians and their family member) to launder the proceeds of corruption. Investment in UK property, particularly in London, continues to be an attractive mechanism to launder funds. The true scale of PEPs investment in the UK is not known, however the source countries that are most commonly seen are Russia, Nigeria and Pakistan".

2. "The overseas jurisdictions that have the most enduring impact on the UK across the majority of the different money laundering threats are: Russia, China, Hong Kong, Pakistan, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Some of these jurisdictions have large financial sectors which also make them attractive as destinations or transit points for the proceeds of crime."

Politicians Dominate Panama Papers

Panama Papers Leak:

The NCA report says there are "professional enablers from the banking, accounting and legal world" who  facilitate the legitimization of criminal finances and are perpetuate the problem by refinancing further criminality.

In fact, there is an entire industry made up of lawyers and accountants that offers its services to help hide illicit wealth. Mossack Fonseca, the law firm that made headlines with "Panama Leaks", is just one example of companies in this industry.

Mossack Fonseca's 11.5 million leaked internal files contained information on more than 214,000 offshore entities tied to 12 current or former heads of state, 140 politicians, including Pakistan's now ex Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's family.  Icelandic Prime Minister resigned voluntarily and Pakistani Prime Minister was forced out by the country's Supreme Court.

The Panama list included showbiz and sports celebrities, lawyers, entrepreneurs,  businessmen, journalists and other occupations but it was heavily dominated by politicians.

Trade Based Money Laundering (TBML):

The report singles out trade as one of the key mechanisms used in money laundering.  It says: "Trade based money laundering (TBML) is a complex global issue and a key method of money laundering impacting on the UK".

It is not just greedy politicians, unscrupulous businessmen and corrupt officials in developing countries who rely on fraudulent manipulation of trade invoices; all kinds of drug traders, terrorists and criminals also use TBML (trade-based money laundering).

John A. Cassara, former US intelligence official with expertise in money laundering, submitted written testimony for a US Congressional hearing on “Trading with the Enemy: Trade-Based Money Laundering is the Growth Industry in Terror Finance” to the Task Force to Investigate Terrorism Financing Of the House Financial Services Committee February 3, 2016. Here's an except from it:

"Not long after the September 11 attacks, I had a conversation with a Pakistani entrepreneur. This businessman could charitably be described as being involved in international grey markets and illicit finance. We discussed many of the subjects addressed in this hearing including trade-based money laundering, terror finance, value transfer, hawala, fictitious invoicing, and counter-valuation. At the end of the discussion, he looked at me and said, “Mr. John, don’t you know that your adversaries are transferring money and value right under your noses? But the West doesn’t see it. Your enemies are laughing at you.”"

Trade Misinvoicing:

Washington-based Global Financial Integrity (GFI) defines trade misinvoicing as "fraudulently manipulating the price, quantity, or quality of a good or service on an invoice submitted to customs" to quickly move substantial sums of money across international borders.

How does trade miscinvoicing work? Here's an example:

Let's say an exporter in Pakistan exports goods worth $1 million to a foreign country and invoices it at $500,000 through an offshore middleman.  The middleman invoices and collects $1 million from the end customer, sends $500,000 to Pakistan and deposits $500,000 in an offshore account. The result: Pakistan is deprived of the $500,000 in foreign exchange.

Similarly, imports of goods worth $1 million to Pakistan are overinvoiced at $1.5 million through an offshore middleman and the difference is kept in an overseas account. The result: Pakistan loses another $500,000 in foreign exchange. Meanwhile, the Pakistani traders and the officials facilitating misinvoicing together pocket $1 million or 50% on the two trades.  Pakistan's trade and current account deficits grow and the foreign exchange reserves are depleted, forcing Pakistan to go back to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for yet another bailout with tough conditions.

Foreign Residency(Iqama):

Assets held by people in offshore tax havens are tracked by their country of residence, not by their citizenship, under OECD sponsored Agreement On Exchange of Information on Tax Matters. Pakistan is a signatory of this international agreement.  When Pakistan seeks information from another country under this agreement,  the nation's FBR gets only the information on asset holders who have declared Pakistan as their country of residence. Information on those Pakistanis who claim residency (iqama) in another country is not shared with Pakistani government. This loophole allows many Pakistani asset holders with iqamas in other countries to hide their assets. Many of Pakistan's top politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen hold residency visas in the Middle East, Europe and North America.

Loss of Tax Revenue:

Customs duties in developing countries often make up a huge part of the tax revenue collected by the governments. Trade Misinvoicing not only increases current account deficits but also worsen budget deficits by cutting tax receipts. Raymond Baker, author of Capitalism's Achilles Heel, has written about it as follows:

"The Pakistan government's largest source of revenues is customs duties, and therefore evasion of duties is a national pastime. Isn't there a way to tap into this major income stream, pretending to fight customs corruption and getting rich at he same time? Of course; we can hire a reputable (or disreputable, as the case maybe) inspection company, have the government pay the company about one percent fee to do price checking on imports, and get multi-million dollar bribes paid to us upon award of the contracts. Societe de Generale de Surveillance (SGS), headquartered in Switzerland, and its then subsidiary Cotecna, the biggest group in the inspection business, readily agree to this subterfuge. Letters in 1994 promised "consultancy fees", meaning kickbacks, of 6 percent and 3 percent to British Virgin Island (BVI) companies, Bomer Finance Inc. and Nassam Overseas Inc., controlled by (Benazir) Bhutto and (Asif) Zardari. Payments of $12 million were made to Swiss bank accounts of the BVI companies."

Aid in Reverse:

Some have called London the "Money Laundering Capital of the World" where corrupt leaders from developing nations use wealth looted from their people to buy expensive real estate and other assets. Private individuals and businesses from poor nations also park money in the west and other off-shore tax havens to hide their incomes and assets from the tax authorities in their countries of residence.

The multi-trillion dollar massive net outflow of money from the poor to the rich countries has been documented by the US-based Global Financial Integrity (GFI). This flow of capital has been described as "aid in reverse". It has made big headlines in Pakistan and elsewhere since the release of the Panama Papers and the Paradise Leaks which revealed true owners of offshore assets held by anonymous shell companies. Bloomberg has reported that Pakistanis alone own as much as $150 billion worth of undeclared assets offshore.

Impact on Economic Growth:

There's a direct relationship between investment and GDP. Flight of capital reduces domestic investment and depresses economic growth in poor countries. Lower tax revenues also impact spending on education, health care and infrastructure, resulting in poor socioeconomic indicators.

In Pakistan, for example, it takes investment of about 4% of GDP to grow the economy by 1%. Lower levels of investments in the country has kept its GDP growth below par relative to the rest of South Asia.  Any reduction in the outflow of capital to offshore tax havens will help boost economic growth in Pakistan to close the gap with its neighbors, particularly Bangladesh and India whose economies are both growing 1-2% faster than Pakistan's.


UK's National Crime Agency (NCA) has listed Pakistan among the top three sources of money laundering in the United Kingdom. The report has identified trade misinvoicing as a key mechanism for money laundering. It singles out politicians as the main culprits. Pakistan's exports have declined significantly since former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's PMLN party assumed power in 2013. They are down from about $25 billion in 2013-14 to about $20 billion in 2016-17. Overvaluation of the Pakistani currency is often cited as a reason for it. The other, probably more important reason, may be increasing underinvoicing of exports facilitated by the people in power. Trade misinvoicing is the largest component of illicit financial outflows from developing countries as measured by New York- based Global Financial Integrity (GFI) which tracks such flows.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Did Musharraf Steal Pakistani People's Money?

Pakistan Economy Hobbled By Underinvestment

Raymond Baker on Corruption in Pakistan

Nawaz Sharif Disqualified

Culture of Corruption in Pakistan

US Investigating Microsoft Bribery in Pakistan

Zardari's Corruption Probe in Switzerland

Politics of Patronage in Pakistan


Riaz Haq said…
Panama Papers: New leak shows Pak clients struggling to avoid trouble

A fresh batch of leaked documents of Panamanian law firm, Mossack Fonseca, reveals how panic triggered after the release of Panama Papers among the firm and its clients; several of them were Pakistanis who had to change their plans of hiding wealth abroad amid fear of yet another leak.

A person (Zaka Ashraf) nominated by PPP for interim PM, who had also been chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), abandoned the process of opening two accounts in Swiss banks after the Panama Papers through his two benami shell companies which came to surface earlier but their ownership was unknown.

Former attorney general Justice (R) Malik Qayyum disassociated himself from a benami company. Its Swiss bank account had Qayyum and his wife as signatories. Samina Durrani, the mother of Tehmina Durrani, “gifted” one offshore company holding property in the UK, to Asimullah Durrani, her son, a few months after the release of Panama Papers.

Meanwhile, a Pakistani banker in the Middle East, Saleem Sheikh, was found seeking explanation from the law firm about the steps taken to prevent any embarrassment in future through yet another leak.

Instead of replying to this concern, Mossack Fonseca served him notice in April 2017 together with other Pakistani passport holders having companies in British Virgin Islands to change their registered agent as “an administrative decision has been taken to resign as registered agent/office for companies with links to high risk countries.” Pakistan is among those 21 countries declared prohibited for business by BVI in April 2017. Nielsen and Nescoll, the offshore companies owned by Sharif family had changed their agent in 2014 hence no detail was found in the latest leak.


Although Mossack Fonseca announced its closure in March this year, it started resigning in April as registered agent of clients from Pakistan which is “on our current prohibited list of countries.” “Kindly however advise the client that an administrative decision was made after conducting a risk assessment to cease acting as agent for companies associated with Pakistan currently, due to the elevated country risk. “Accordingly, we suggest that they make arrangements to change the registered agent/office of the company soonest,” read an email.

There are another 20 countries which have been declared ‘High Risk’ due to money laundering and terror financing. Pakistan has been flagged due to terror financing. Other high risk countries are Afghanistan, Belarus, Bosnia, Central African Republic, Cuba, Congo, Eretria, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, North Korea, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Yemen and Zimbabwe.
Riaz Haq said…
Penthouse pirates: How the mega-rich former prime minister of #Pakistan #NawazSharif and his sons have plowed millions into #London's swankiest addresses to amass a vast property empire. #MoneyLaundering #PMLN

Avenfield House is where Pakistan's super-rich former PM, Nawaz Sharif, has lived when in London, since 1993
He knocked four luxury flats together to make a single mansion, now worth at least £7million
Sharif shares it with his two sons, his daughter and political heir-apparent Maryam and her husband
For the past four months, all five of them have been on trial in Pakistan accused of money-laundering

The address could not be swankier. Avenfield House lies in the heart of Mayfair, near the top of Park Lane, with a view of Hyde Park.

It is just the kind of property that Russian oligarchs have pounced upon in recent years.

But while it is owned by a family of foreign plutocrats with powerful political connections, they are no Putin cronies.

For Avenfield is where Pakistan’s super-rich former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, has lived when in London since 1993, knocking four luxury flats together to make a single mansion, now worth at least £7 million.

He shares it with his sons, Hassan and Hussain, his daughter and political heir-apparent Maryam and her husband Muhammad Safdar.

For the past four months, all five of them have been on trial in Pakistan accused of money-laundering.

The Avenfield flats, the prosecutors say, were bought with dirty money. They form just a fraction of a London property empire owned by Sharif’s family.

And prosecutors believe the money used to bankroll it was dishonestly acquired by Nawaz Sharif during his three terms as prime minister.

Last year, when Sharif was still PM, the courts barred him from holding public office for the rest of his life, on grounds he failed to declare a salary from a Dubai company when he last ran for office in 2013.

The first of three money-laundering verdicts, which relates to the Avenfield flats, is expected this week.


It is not illegal to own property through an offshore company.

However, under Pakistan’s national accountability laws – first enacted in 1997 when Nawaz Sharif was prime minister – it is down to the Sharifs to prove their assets were acquired legitimately.

This, the prosecutors claim, they have failed to do. In court last week, Nawaz’s Sharif’s defence counsel claimed the prosecution had failed to establish his client was the beneficial owner of the flats or that he ran the offshore companies.

He said his name did not appear on documents submitted by the prosecutors and that he did not need to call any evidence for the defence because the prosecution had not proved its case.

At the heart of the cases against the family is a ten-volume dossier, which is part of the formal court record.

The work of a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) from six Pakistani law enforcement and intelligence agencies, it is based on hundreds of documents and interviews with the Sharifs and their associates.

As well as claiming that their assets exceed their demonstrable legal income, it also cites nine separate ongoing corruption investigations into Nawaz, in which he is alleged to have ‘misused his authority’ as PM and derived personal benefits.

The defence has challenged its contents, claiming the JIT went beyond its remit with its analysis and conclusions.

Sharif’s two sons, Hassan and Hussain, fled Pakistan just as the charges against them were being drawn up last year, and have taken refuge in London.

There is no extradition treaty between Britain and Pakistan.
Riaz Haq said…
Campaign group #TransparencyInternational has urged #UK authorities to seize #Sharifs' property in the country following the #corruption probe. #Pakistan #PMLN
Riaz Haq said…
By the close of #Pakistan's latest #Tax #Amnesty Scheme on 31st July 2018, declarations from 5,363 entities disclosed #foreign assets worth US$ 8.1 billion. Pakistanis' total hidden foreign assets worth estimated around $350 billion. #MoneyLaundering

Authorities probing illegal foreign accounts and properties of thousands of Pakistanis made shocking revelations on Tuesday that the volume of these assets hidden in different tax havens abroad reached up to US$350 (Rs43 trillion).

Interestingly, the authorities also revealed for the first time that only accounts and properties worth Rs1,003 billion (US$8.1 billion) have been declared by over 5, 300 entities or individuals, under the Tax Amnesty Scheme 2018 over the past three months.

“By the close of Amnesty Scheme 2018, on 31st July 2018, declarations from 5,363 entities (individuals/companies) had disclosed foreign assets worth Rs1,003 billion (US$ 8.1 billion), with major share of declared assets located in UAE. Properties/accounts holders in other tax-haven countries benefited only marginally from this scheme,” revealed the confidential details submitted with the Supreme Court.

The declared amount of US$8.1 billion is around 2.3% of overall illegal accounts worth US$350 by thousands of Pakistanis who allegedly violated national laws while establishing their assets abroad.

“Total volume of Dubai properties is over Rs4,240 billion with annual investment and growth of Rs220 billion where Pakistani property agents/investors were counting them as more than 5,000 individuals/entities,” suggested the details Geo News exclusively collected from the Federal Investigation Agency, State Bank of Pakistan, Federal Board of Revenue, Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, Finance Division & other financial institutions.

The shocking details also revealed that British government has listed Pakistan among top 3 money laundering source countries, after Nigeria and Russia. Institutions have also cited reference of British National Crime Agency's 2018 report.

About top tax haven, the concerned institutions have also claimed that Pakistani citizens have stashed US$100 billion in United Kingdom and United States of America, with additional amount of millions of dollars parked in real estate sectors. They have quoted findings of Mr. Shabbar Zaidi of AF Ferguson, Pakistan in this report. An estimated over US$200 billion were stashed by Pakistanis in Switzerland, the report revealed, quoting statement of Micheline Calmy-Rey/Swiss Foreign Minister in 2014.

The shocking details continued to reveal that millions of dollars have also been stashed by hundreds of Pakistanis in Hong Kong, British Virgin Islands, Bahamas Channel Island Seychelles and other tax havens for corporate vehicles involved in money laundering.

About reasons for poor control over money laundering and difficulties in investigation, the institutions have told the apex court that the weak legislative instruments remain a stumbling block in the way to take action against these individuals, who violate national laws while stashing billions of rupees abroad illegally.

The FIA says that Foreign Assets Declaration Regulation, 1972 is a non-declaration and not defined as a predicate offence, and the authority was not authorised to investigate.

Foreign Exchange Regulation ACT, 1947, Income Tax Ordinance 2001, Section 111-(4) protect sources if unexplained income from foreign remittance and Pakistan Economic Reforms ACT, 1992 Section-4 and 5 also protect sources of unexplained income from foreign remittance, the FIA drew attention of top court toward this matter.
Riaz Haq said…
Arrest of #Pakistan couple connected to ex #PPP leader exposes money laundering failing. #British #Crime Agency said they "control a #UK property portfolio worth more than £8m for which they appear to have no legitimate source of income." #moneylaundering

A married couple from Pakistan amassed UK property worth millions of pounds despite being part of an investigation into corruption, the BBC understands.

The case highlights major weaknesses in Britain's anti-money laundering system, say anti-corruption campaigners.

National Crime Agency (NCA) officers arrested the couple on Monday, hours after Home Secretary Sajid Javid struck an agreement to cooperate with Pakistan on countering corruption.

They were released under investigation.

UK and Pakistan to step up money laundering action

In a statement, the NCA said they "control a UK property portfolio worth more than £8m for which they appear to have no legitimate source of income."

The investigation relates to "alleged money laundering in the United Kingdom believed to be the result of corruption in Pakistan."

But BBC News - working with Transparency International - has seen papers showing the properties were bought several years after a major international investigation had already been launched against Farhan Junejo.

He and his wife, Binish Qureshi, are British citizens.

Mr Junejo was a civil servant in Pakistan and an officer in the Pakistani Peoples Party. He was placed under investigation in Islamabad in 2013 and accused of involvement in a multi-million pound corruption scandal. His assets were frozen.

Mrs Qureshi was allegedly the beneficiary of funds transferred by her husband via companies in Dubai to a bank account in the UK.

She would not comment on the allegations when contacted by the BBC.

Despite Pakistan's Federal Investigation Agency reportedly contacting its counterpart in the UK, Mr Junejo and his wife were able to subsequently buy a portfolio of property in southern England.

This was despite their status as Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs).

Under UK Anti-Money Laundering Regulations, PEPs are individuals - and their relatives - whose prominent position in public life may make them vulnerable to corruption.

They are expected to be subject to enhanced due diligence by banks, building societies and estate agents.

Big red flag
Solicitors and other professionals have a legal duty to file a suspicious activity report (SAR) when they have grounds to suspect they are being asked to handle the proceeds of crime. The BBC does not know if any SARs were triggered in this case.

"Corruption allegations against politically exposed persons are a big red flag and it's astonishing that these individuals were able to purchase numerous properties, open UK companies and set up multiple bank accounts," said Rachel Davies-Teka, Head of Advocacy at Transparency International.

"It underlines just how lax defences against money laundering in key sectors have been, and why the UK remains a destination of choice for those looking to hide dirty money."

Land Registry papers show that FJ Corporation Limited - owned by Mrs Qureshi - bought three properties worth a total of £3.5m.

FJ Corporation Ltd also paid for two properties in Berkshire for an undisclosed amount. All of them were acquired between 2014 and 2017.

The NCA declined our request for comment. According to their estimates, hundreds of billions of pounds of corrupt money flow through the UK every year.

But for UK investigators to bring either criminal or civil action in the courts here against people accused of corruption or money laundering overseas, they need the full cooperation of their counterparts overseas. This is not always forthcoming.

The signing of an agreement on Monday between the UK and Pakistan is designed to ensure evidence is shared between anti-corruption and money laundering investigators in both countries.
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistani ice-cream seller unaware of £14m in his bank account
‘Penniless billionaire’ Abdul Qadir’s identity believed to have been used by money launderers

A Pakistani ice-cream salesman who lives in a slum is facing meltdown after he learned that for more than a year he was the unwitting owner of a bank account containing 2.3bn rupees (£14m).

Officials from the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) brought Muhammad Abdul Qadir in for questioning about the fortune last month as they investigated a massive money-laundering scam involving dozens of fake bank accounts.

“I am the most unlucky man in the world,” the 52-year-old said in a television interview. “When I came to know about [the huge sum], it was no longer there.”

Outside his tiny home in the Organi slum of the port city of Karachi, Qadir told the Guardian that becoming a “penniless billionaire” had turned his life upside down.

The FIA is probing at least 77 bank accounts – typically created in the names of labourers, security guards and other down-at-heel citizens – thought to be part of a 35bn rupee (£220m) laundromat for dirty money that allegedly reaches up to former president Asif Ali Zardari.

Two years ago the State Bank of Pakistan informed the FIA about a suspicious transaction in Qadir’s supposed account, which was open between 2014 and 2015, when the untouched millions were withdrawn.

The FIA came to accept that Qadir was not involved after he repeatedly told them that, although the account was set up using a valid copy of his identity card, he had no idea of its existence and could not have signed the 2.3bn rupee transaction for one simple reason: he is unable to write.

Brought in for a second interview on 19 September, the distraught vendor invited sceptical officials to inspect the condition of his home. “Why would I be spending this miserable life if I have billions in my account?” he said.

The affair has only further impoverished Qadir. While he used to make £3 per day selling ice-cream, the father of two has been unable to return to work since his story spread through the neighbourhood.

“People started taunting me by saying, ‘Look a billionaire is selling falooda [an ice-cream topped desert].’” His mother feared rumours of fabulous wealth might incite kidnappers and advised him to stay at home, he added to the Guardian, on the verge of tears.

“I wish my friend had left his cart behind and become a billionaire for real,” said Shaheryar, who sells chickpeas nearby. “Alas it is not the case.”

An official from the FIA could not confirm to the Guardian that Qadir’s account was involved in the money-laundering scam as the agency has been strictly informed not to comment on the investigation. However, he said it was “huge and hinted at something big”.

In August a Pakistani banking court granted ex-president Zardari protective bail. The co-chairman of the liberal Pakistan People’s party (PPP), whose alleged fondness for kickbacks earned him the nickname “Mr 10 Percent” while in office, denies all the allegations.

In a separate case investigated by the FIA, 8bn rupees (£50m) was briefly deposited in the company account of Adnan Javed, a small-time Karachi businessman who never checked his balance while it was there. Javed’s company name was Lucky International.
Riaz Haq said…
#UK’s Role in #Pakistan’s Fight Against #Corruption: Pakistan is among the top 3 sources of money laundering in UK, mainly in form of high-end properties purchased with illicit funds. #MoneyLaundering

Whilst corruption, tax evasion and weaknesses in national financial crime controls are issues that Pakistan itself must address, other countries – none more so than the UK – have an important role to play in helping Mr Khan achieve his objectives.

Historically, the UK’s illicit finance engagement with Pakistan has focused on the flow of money leaving the UK for Pakistan. These funds mostly represent the proceeds of drugs and earnings from other forms of organised crime flowing to Pakistan. In 2015, the UK’s first National Risk Assessment (NRA) of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing noted that Pakistan is one of the top two outbound destinations from the UK for undeclared cash detected at the UK border, a large element of which is adjudged to be linked to criminality.

This NRA was followed by a more refined second edition in 2017. The politically unpopular ranking and accusatory tone was not repeated, and a more shared picture of risk was painted, noting the combined exposure the UK and Pakistan had to money laundering, given the considerable remittance and business links that exist between the two countries. Nevertheless, the focus of the UK’s engagement with Pakistan on criminal finances remained predicated on the threat posed by Pakistan-based organised crime groups to the UK.

In contrast, the role the UK – and London in particular as revealed by the Panama Papers – plays in attracting and hiding illicit finance (primarily the proceeds of corruption and tax evasion) from Pakistan is only sparingly addressed in UK risk assessments. In 2018, the UK’s National Strategic Assessment of Serious and Organised Crime has, for the first time, listed Pakistan as one of the top three source countries of politically exposed persons (PEPs) investing in the UK. The Assessment also acknowledges the uncomfortable truth that ‘[t]he UK is a prime destination for foreign corrupt PEPs to launder the proceeds of corruption’.

Many in Pakistan would agree. It is this flow of funds from Pakistan to the UK that Mr Khan is targeting. And as a recent field trip to Pakistan by the authors of this analysis indicated, it is this flow of funds that looms large in the view of many Pakistanis, from bankers to serving and retired government and military officials. London – and in particular its property market – has been the subject of extensive reporting in the Pakistani media and is seen as an irresponsible facilitator of the looting of the state’s assets by the corrupt elite. Inevitably, the role Pakistan plays as a destination for criminal finances from the UK is barely acknowledged.

Expectations of how the UK will assist the Khan government’s anti-corruption mission are high, and the UK authorities encourage these hopes. A visit to Islamabad by British Home Secretary Sajid Javid in September included the announcement of ‘a new UK-Pakistan partnership on accountability to tackle illicit finance’ including the provision of £500,000 to support Pakistan’s ability ‘to pursue money launderers and to recover assets’.
Riaz Haq said…
Russian-Style Kleptocracy Is Infiltrating America
When the U.S.S.R. collapsed, Washington bet on the global spread of democratic capitalist values—and lost.

American officialdom, Palmer believed, had badly misjudged Russia. Washington had placed its faith in the new regime’s elites; it took them at their word when they professed their commitment to democratic capitalism. But Palmer had seen up close how the world’s growing interconnectedness—and global finance in particular—could be deployed for ill. During the Cold War, the KGB had developed an expert understanding of the banking byways of the West, and spymasters had become adept at dispensing cash to agents abroad. That proficiency facilitated the amassing of new fortunes. In the dying days of the U.S.S.R., Palmer had watched as his old adversaries in Soviet intelligence shoveled billions from the state treasury into private accounts across Europe and the U.S. It was one of history’s greatest heists.

Washington told itself a comforting story that minimized the importance of this outbreak of kleptomania: These were criminal outliers and rogue profiteers rushing to exploit the weakness of the new state. This narrative infuriated Palmer. He wanted to shake Congress into recognizing that the thieves were the very elites who presided over every corner of the system. “For the U.S. to be like Russia is today,” he explained to the House committee, “it would be necessary to have massive corruption by the majority of the members at Congress as well as by the Departments of Justice and Treasury, and agents of the FBI, CIA, DIA, IRS, Marshal Service, Border Patrol; state and local police officers; the Federal Reserve Bank; Supreme Court justices …” In his testimony, Palmer even mentioned Russia’s newly installed and little-known prime minister (whom he mistakenly referred to as Boris Putin), accusing him of “helping to loot Russia.”

The United States, Palmer made clear, had allowed itself to become an accomplice in this plunder. His assessment was unsparing. The West could have turned away this stolen cash; it could have stanched the outflow to shell companies and tax havens. Instead, Western banks waved Russian loot into their vaults. Palmer’s anger was intended to provoke a bout of introspection—and to fuel anxiety about the risk that rising kleptocracy posed to the West itself. After all, the Russians would have a strong interest in protecting their relocated assets. They would want to shield this wealth from moralizing American politicians who might clamor to seize it. Eighteen years before Special Counsel Robert Mueller began his investigation into foreign interference in a U.S. election, Palmer warned Congress about Russian “political donations to U.S. politicians and political parties to obtain influence.” What was at stake could well be systemic contagion: Russian values might infect and then weaken the moral defense systems of American politics and business.

This unillusioned spook was a prophet, and he spoke out at a hinge moment in the history of global corruption. America could not afford to delude itself into assuming that it would serve as the virtuous model, much less emerge as an untainted bystander. Yet when Yegor Gaidar, a reformist Russian prime minister in the earliest postcommunist days, asked the United States for help hunting down the billions that the KGB had carted away, the White House refused. “Capital flight is capital flight” was how one former CIA official summed up the American rationale for idly standing by. But this was capital flight on an unprecedented scale, and mere prologue to an era of rampant theft. When the Berkeley economist Gabriel Zucman studied the problem in 2015, he found that 52 percent of Russia’s wealth resided outside the country.

Riaz Haq said…
Journalist: Kleptocrats' 'Ill-Gotten Fortunes' Are Being Parked In U.S. Real Estate

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. My guest Franklin Foer has been writing about the Mueller investigation and connections between Donald Trump, his campaign and Russia for The Atlantic magazine, where he's a national correspondent. And for his latest article, titled "Russian-Style Kleptocracy Is Infiltrating America," he writes about how wealth plundered by Russian oligarchs is being parked in real estate in American cities, including in Trump properties. Foer is nominated for a National Magazine Award for his article about Paul Manafort titled "American Hustler." Manafort is Trump's former campaign chair, whose associates have included Oleg Deripaska - a Russian oligarch - and Konstantin Kilimnik, who, according to the FBI, has ties to a Russian intelligence agency.


FOER: So in 2017, Reuters did this survey of Trump Organization properties in Florida. And what they found was that of the about 2,000 units in those developments, a third of the units in his properties were sold to anonymous corporate vehicles where we're unable to trace who actually owns the property.

It hurts the U.S. economy in that it artificially inflates real estate values and makes cities more unlivable for regular people because their rents end up getting dragged up by the top end. So economically, that's, I think, pretty much the sum of the damage.

But I think that the costs that we pay is one of - that's deeper and harder to detect, which is that as we construct the system, there are an enormous number of Americans who become complicit with it - that for a Russian to buy a building in a Trump property requires the Trump Organization to be essentially complicit. It requires lawyers and real estate agents to become complicit. And oftentimes, it requires whole states to become complicit. So we have places like Delaware and Nevada that are the primary locales where foreigners can anonymously register shell companies. And so those states make a whole lot of money in the course of abetting this activity.


GROSS: So there might be Russians in those properties.

FOER: Yeah. There's a journalist who jokes Vladimir Putin could own those properties, and we wouldn't know.

GROSS: So financially for, say, Russians parking their money in pricey real estate in the U.S., the Russians don't have to pay taxes in Russia. If they want to, they can remain kind of anonymous in terms of the ownership of the properties, especially if it's going through a shell company. But does that hurt the U.S. economy in any way?

FOER: It hurts the U.S. economy in that it artificially inflates real estate values and makes cities more unlivable for regular people because their rents end up getting dragged up by the top end. So economically, that's, I think, pretty much the sum of the damage.

But I think that the costs that we pay is one of - that's deeper and harder to detect, which is that as we construct the system, there are an enormous number of Americans who become complicit with it - that for a Russian to buy a building in a Trump property requires the Trump Organization to be essentially complicit. It requires lawyers and real estate agents to become complicit. And oftentimes, it requires whole states to become complicit. So we have places like Delaware and Nevada that are the primary locales where foreigners can anonymously register shell companies. And so those states make a whole lot of money in the course of abetting this activity.
Riaz Haq said…
Oliver Bullough is a journalist and author, whose work has covered how corrupt individuals from overseas use the UK to launder their stolen wealth. His new book “Moneyland: Why Thieves and Crookes Now Rule the World and How to Take it Back”, is available to buy now.

Anger over corruption is driving political change all over the world, more than ever.

In Malaysia, the former prime minister is facing allegations over the 1MDB scandal; in Pakistan, ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif has been convicted of corruption; South Africa’s former president has been charged over a $2.5 billion arms deal; and, of course, in the United States, political insiders from Donald Trump downwards are facing questions about dirty money.

For activists who’ve been campaigning on this issue for years — and journalists like me – this feel great, like the world is waking up at last. But there is a gap in the debate around corruption, and that is what the word means. What exactly is it that the world is rising up against? If we don’t know what the enemy is, how will we know if we’ve defeated it?

TI has long defined corruption as “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain”, which is a definition that appears to make sense. If you’ve been shaken down by a Russian border guard, a Nigerian policeman, or at an Afghan checkpoint you immediately know that what happened to you was corruption. It is this definition that powers the Corruption Perceptions Index. The CPI’s scores – most recently, New Zealand and Denmark were winners at the clean end; Somalia and South Sudan were the losers at the bottom – reflect accurately a visitor’s chance of being shaken down on a visit to any chosen country.


If offshore centres stopped helping politicians hide their stolen money, then those politicians would be both easier to prosecute, and discouraged from stealing. If big western cities stopped accepting foreign crooks’ money into their real estate and luxury goods markets, those crooks would no longer want to steal so much money, and that money would be easier to confiscate.

Look at the case of Nawaz Sharif: he’s been convicted of corruption in his home country, thanks to his purchase of four luxury properties in London, having previously gone undetected by obscuring his ownership behind three British Virgin Island companies. The BVI and the UK are as crucial to this crime as Pakistan was, yet where are the prosecutions in these jurisdictions?

If we want to help ensure the anti-corruption uprisings are a success, we need to help them by tackling corruption in its entirety. And that means we in the West, and in Britain most of all, need to face up to our own role in hiding and accepting crooked officials’ stolen wealth.
Riaz Haq said…
'Moneyland' Reveals How Oligarchs, Kleptocrats And Crooks Stash Fortunes

You know, this (Ukraine) is a country with Europe's fastest-growing HIV epidemic - you know, real desperate health needs, you know, very low life expectancy. And yet, though, the sort of government officials - people tasked with running the health service - were so cynical that they were just basically stealing the money that was supposed to be treating people with HIV or HIV/AIDS. You know, it's a really nasty system. And it's incredibly cynical, and it's infecting increasingly large parts of the world, all of it - with all of it hidden and enabled by - yeah, as I say, this - you know, this offshore industry - what I call Moneyland.


BULLOUGH: You know, New York and London are kind of the capitals of "Moneyland." They can spar with each other. In fact, to be honest, from a "Moneyland" perspective, New York and London are kind of the same place. They sort of blur into each other. So New York would obviously be a winner - up and sort of, you know, Central Park West, I suppose, up there. But I mean, Miami - obviously huge, too - Miami, particularly popular with the Latin American kleptocrats.

It's been amazing to me, you know, if you watch the sort war of rhetoric between the government in Washington and the government in Venezuela. You know, this sort of war of rhetoric has absolutely not - you know, disrupted Venezuelan investment in top-end Miami real estate at all. You know, the Venezuelan - the powerful Venezuelan elite - they'd love to put their money in Miami. So that would be a fun place to do it. In fact, have a sort of historical angle. You could go back to Al Capone, as well, if you wanted it there.

LA, Los Angeles, would be good. The former deputy president of Equatorial Guinea, a gentleman called Teodoro Obiang, spent a lot of money in Malibu. ...

But yeah, so all those would be my kind of picks for the kleptocrats who are in the U.S. Obviously, New York. Then Miami, second place. And then I'd say LA and San Francisco in a sort of, kind of - somewhere in third and fourth. And I'm not sure which would come first.

GROSS: Is that because these cities that you've mentioned are great places to live with, you know, wonderful, you know, palatial places to buy or to live? Or is it because of the laws in those places, too?

BULLOUGH: You know, these are, obviously, lovely places to be. But, you know, if you think about, if you're a crook and you've stolen a fortune, you're well-aware of the fact that anyone in your country can steal a fortune. So they're maybe going to steal your fortune if someone else comes along who's bigger and more of a bully than you are. So, you know, it's a priority to get your money out of the country where you've earned it and where you've stolen it, and get it somewhere, you know, where it's safe.

So though they themselves love breaking the law and abusing, you know, their fellow citizens as much as they can, for their own accounts, they don't want a country like that. So they depend on being able to get their money into a place with the rule of law. So that's why London is so popular, why New York is so popular. These are places where, once you've bought property, it's very, very difficult to have that property taken away from you.
Riaz Haq said…
Around three months ago, this correspondent had reported that the NAB is set to foot the bill of more than $45 million (approx Rs6.238 billion) after losing at the LCIA to the asset recovery firm Broadsheet LLC. This firm was hired by the NAB during Pervez Musharraf’s era to trace assets in UK and US of more than 200 Pakistanis including generals, politicians, businessmen with Benazir Bhutto, Asif Ali Zardari, Nawaz Sharif and several businessmen as the chief targets.

Murtaza Ali Shah
April 3, 2019

NAB’s law firm Allen & Overy took the case to London High Court against the award of more than $21 million in favour of Broadsheet LLC The anti-graft body wants the London High Court to reduce the award of cost by around a million dollars It’s understood that the litigation will be expensive and will cost the NAB further

LONDON: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has taken it’s case to the London High Court challenging the arbitration of nearly $21 million in favour of assets recovery form Broadsheet LLC by Sir Anthony Evans at the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) – but the move is set to cost Pakistan’s national exchequer more money.

It’s understood that the litigation will be expensive and will cost the NAB further. While a decision will be made by the London High Court judge whether or not to cut the award cost but in normal circumstances it’s unlikely for the judges in England & Wales to cancel or invalidate the previous court decisions unless compelling new evidence is established or factual faults found in previous awards and judgements.

Around three months ago, this correspondent had reported that the NAB is set to foot the bill of more than $45 million (approx Rs6.238 billion) after losing at the LCIA to the asset recovery firm Broadsheet LLC. This firm was hired by the NAB during Pervez Musharraf’s era to trace assets in UK and US of more than 200 Pakistanis including generals, politicians, businessmen with Benazir Bhutto, Asif Ali Zardari, Nawaz Sharif and several businessmen as the chief targets.

The total cost to the NAB was estimated to be over US $60 million when all costs, damages and fines taken into calculation but with the NAB’s decision to litigate further the costs will continue increasing. The costs will include legal fees, fines, costs and interests.

In 2000, Pervez Musharraf’s govt entered into an agreement with the Isle of Man-registered Broadsheet LLC in early 2000 with the task to help track down assets of Nawaz Sharif and more than 200 other politicians, generals and officials at its own expense -- in return for 20 percent of any sums recovered from the designated targets.

The deal went pear shaped when Pakistan suddenly pulled out of the agreement and the Broadsheet sued.

The total award to Broadsheet against around three months ago was $21,589,460 against the following targets: Schon Group: $48,760 interest from 1 Jan 2013; Lakhani: $25,000, 1 July 2005; Kasmi: $85,600, 1 July 2005; Lt Gen Zahid Ali Akbar: $381,600, 1 Jan 2016; Sherpao: $210,000, 1 Jan 2018; Ansari: $180,000, 1 Jan 2005, $158,500, 1 Feb 2007 and $1,089,460; Sharif Avenfield $1,500,000 and Sharif (other assets) $19,000,000.

Riaz Haq said…
A former general of the Pakistan Army has returned Rs200 million of misappropriated funds in a plea bargain to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

Lt General (retd) Zahid Ali Akbar commanded the Rawalpindi Corps and remained Wapda chairman from 1987 to 1992 as well as serving as the Pakistan Cricket Board chairman. He was accused of corruption and having assets beyond his known sources.

The NAB received his confessional statement and Rs200 million which was deposited in the national treasury. Lt General (retd) Zahid Ali Akbar was arrested through Interpol when he was entering Bosnia from Croatia but due to his citizenship of the United Kingdom he was shifted from Bosnia to Britain.

According to NAB documents, Lt General (retd) Zahid Ali Akbar had 77 bank accounts in which more than Rs200 million were deposited and these bank accounts were in the name of Zahid Ali Akbar, his close relatives and in the name of different companies.

Sources refuted the impression that the NAB was not investigating the cases against retired generals or judges. Zahid Ali Akbar declared himself guilty and if he was in politics, he would be disqualified from contesting any elections for 10 years.

Ninety-one-year-old Lt General (retd) Zahid Ali Akbar, who had served as a military secretary to president Fazal Elahi Chaudhry, in his letter to the NAB expressed his desire to spend his last days of his life in Pakistan.

The NAB has no objection to his return to Pakistan as he has deposited the money in the national exchequer under the plea bargain. The NAB has also informed the Accountability Court about the desire of Lt General (retd) Zahid Ali Akbar to return to the country and requested the removal of his name from the Exit Control List (ECL). Now the Accountability Court has to take a final decision of removing his name from the ECL.

Riaz Haq said…
One man uncovered $230 billion #MoneyLaundry: "A #UK company with a registered office in North #London with an account in an #Estonian bank that's actually run by #Russians and the partners, the owners, are from the #Seychelles and the #Marshall Islands"

(British Banker Howard) Wilkinson's job was to run the market trading side of the (Danish Danske) bank for the Baltic region, not investigate the bank's clients, but that changed almost by accident when a colleague asked him for some help getting information about a customer registered in the United Kingdom as Lantana Trade LLP. Wilkinson, a Briton himself, knew he could check the firm's assets and income on the British business registry. When he did so, Lantana was listed as dormant, but he knew by looking at their account at the bank, they were anything but dormant and conducting transactions worth multiple millions of dollars a day.

The company also had connections to remote exotic places known for banking secrecy and money laundering. "A UK company with a registered office in North London with an account in an Estonian bank that's actually run by Russians and the partners, the owners, are from the Seychelles and the Marshall Islands," says Wilkinson.

Eventually, after colleagues told him that Lantana had been asked to take their business elsewhere because of connections to the FSB, the Russian security service, and also to Igor Putin, Russian President Vladimir Putin's cousin, he informed officials at the bank of his concerns about Lantana. Then he kept digging and examined publicly available records for more of the bank's clients who were registered in Britain. "Not just were the accounts all false, the accounts all basically looked the same," he tells Kroft.

Frustrated with the bank's lack of action, he resigned and returned to Britain. Prodded by the press in Europe, Danske Bank eventually commissioned an investigation and admitted its tiny Estonian branch was the gateway for what may be the largest money-laundering scheme in history.

Steve Kohn, Wilkinson's lawyer, says the large multinational banks that facilitated the transactions deserve scrutiny as well. "The moment you're doing money laundering in large amounts of money, billions, hundreds of millions, you need the big banks. And the big banks are under strict regulations… very strict rules to stop money laundering."

Wilkinson, who under various U.S. whistleblower laws, could potentially share in the proceeds of any fines levied has been keeping a low profile. "You've got to be [careful], haven't you," he says, "The very nature of the people who want to launder money probably means that they're not the sort that you want go down [to] the pub and have a pint with."
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan, #UK sign memorandum of understanding (MoU) that will provide a legal basis for the extradition of former #finance minister Ishaq Dar to Pakistan to face charges. #MoneyLaundering #corruption #PMLN #NawazSharif

Pakistan and the British government have inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that will provide a legal basis for the extradition of former finance minister Ishaq Dar to Pakistan.

In a tweet, Special Assistant to Prime Minister Imran Khan on Accountability Shahzad Akbar said he held meetings with UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid and Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific Mark Field during his stay in London over the past week.

“[The] UK signs first ever MoU for extradition to Pakistan, setting legal basis for the extradition of Ishaq Dar in absence of a treaty,” he said.

Earlier on May 23, the UK home secretary had tweeted: “Pleasure to meet with @ShazadAkbar again this morning to discuss progress on UK-Pakistan efforts to tackle corruption.”

Graeme Biggar, the director of National Security at Britain’s interior ministry and Shahzad Akbar signed the MoU, reaching an agreement for the extradition of Ishaq Dar to Pakistan.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan's Financial Monitoring Unit signs anti #moneylaundering deals with #UK ,#Turkey, #SriLanka, #Iran, #Turkmenistan and #Kazakhstan, while agreements with #China, #UAE, #Qatar and #Malawi expected soon. #corruption #PMLN #PPP

The Pakistani and British governments on Thursday signed an agreement to enhance financial intelligence sharing in order to counter money laundering and terror financing.

A delegation headed by FMU Director General Mansoor Siddiqui signed the agreement with the United Kingdom's Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) while on a visit to the UK.

A press release issued on the occasion stated that the FMU in Pakistan and the FIU in the UK had signed an MoU for the establishment of a channel facilitating the efficient exchange of financial intelligence.

The delegation held meetings with British law enforcement agencies (LEAs) and discussed how to enhance coordination between the FIU and LEAs. The team also familiarised itself with the workings of the FIU, the press release stated.

As a result of the visit, LEAs on both sides will now have the opportunity to exchange information and carry out more effective investigations.

The FMU has already signed MoUs with Turkey, Sri Lanka, Iran, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan, while agreements with China, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Malawi are being finalised and are expected to be signed soon.
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan goes after hidden assets and finds nearly $450 million
After another IMF loan, the country is increasing enforcement on tax avoidance to help manage its debt.

Pakistan's government, struggling to lift revenues and cut ballooning public debt, registered around 100,000 new tax filers and expects to have raised about $450m from a tax amnesty on hidden assets, the finance chief said on Thursday.

The announcement came a day after the International Monetary Fund gave final approval to a six-billion-dollar loan package designed to shore up the economy while the government cuts debt and builds up dwindling foreign currency reserves.

Finance chief Abdul Hafeez Shaikh said nearly 137,000 people had registered at the closure of the amnesty this week, of whom nearly 100,000 were first-time filers.

That was a significant total in a nation in which less than one percent of the 208 million population file tax returns.

In total, around three trillion rupees ($19.25bn) of assets were declared and tax revenue worth around 70 billion rupees ($449.15m) was collected.

Prime Minister Imran Khan introduced the amnesty on undeclared assets, part of a broader drive to widen Pakistan's notoriously narrow tax base, in a bid to identify high earners for more efficient tax collection.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan NAB recovers Rs2.12 billion thru plea bargain. #Sindh #PPP took bribes for Illegal favors to Technomen Kinetic and Others in Projects of Sindh Nooriabad Power Company and Sindh Transmission and Dispatch Company (STDC). #corruption #OmniGroup National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Rawalpindi has recovered Rs 2.12 billion through Plea Bargain (PB) from the accused Asif Mahmood, Arif Ali Directors – Technomen Kinetics (Pvt) Ltd involved in collusive bidding, exorbitant rates, corruption and corrupt practices in power generation projects of Sindh.

According to NAB spokesman, plea bargain has been approved in case of Investigation Against Holder of Public Office, Legal Person and Others Involved in Fake Bank Accounts Scam Regarding Extending Illegal favours to M/S Technomen Kinetic (Pvt) Ltd, and Others in Projects of Sindh Nooriabad Power Company and Sindh Transmission and Dispatch Company (STDC) and Misappropriation of Funds.

As per details, Accused Asif Mahmood S/o Syed Irfan Ali and Accused Arif Ali, Directors – Technomen Kinetics (Pvt) Ltd, Sindh Nooriabad Power Company (Pvt) Ltd, Sindh Nooriabad Power Company (Pvt) Ltd Phase-II in connivance with Government officials and others were proved to be involved in collusive bidding, exorbitant rates, Corruption and Corrupt practices in power generation projects of Sindh.

During investigation both accused submitted plea bargain application of Rs. 2.12 Billion to NAB authorities, which will be submitted to Accountability Court for final approval by the Investigation team comprising Younis and Hammad Kamal.

NAB Rawalpindi has once again resolved to vigorously pursue all the corruption cases on merit and with objectivity irrespective of the status of accused in pursuance to Chairman’s vision of Look at cases and not faces.
Riaz Haq said…
#UK crime agency agreed to £190 million final settlement with Malik Riaz who has been serving as proxy for #Pakistan’s 2 major political families of #NawazSharif and Asif Ali #Zardari. #PPP #PMLN #moneylaundering #London #corruption #NCA via @nayadaurpk

Jan Achakzai writes that the UK Crime Agency’s financial settlement with Malik Riaz, which will be given to Pakistan, is a concrete sign of recovery of looted money from Nawaz Sharif’s family through Riaz.

After months of accusations of political opponents in failing to recover any stolen asset, for the first time, the PTI government has achieved a milestone – a public relations coup, a vindication of its narrative in the form of recovered asset by the UK’s investigative authorities.

The name involved in the property transaction is none other than the younger son of three times Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif—Hassan Nawaz who sold the property in question with whopping $45 million pounds to Property Tycoon Malik Riaz at the time when Panama scandals was about to burst.

The property tycoon has been serving as proxy for Pakistan’s two major political families of Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari. The UK crime agency agreed to a total of £190 million pounds of final settlement figure with the property tycoon involving the confiscation of cash laundered as well.

The UK Crime Agency will hand over the money to the government of Pakistan. It is indeed the first concrete sign of recovery of looted money from Nawaz Sharif’s family though sold to proxy owner Malik Riaz, being handed over to Pakistan.

Interestingly, the media interviews of Hassan Nawaz and Maryam Nawaz were on the record that they do not own any properties. Even in a BBC interview, Hassan Nawaz had claimed that he was renting. However, anticipating trouble in Panama and subsequent trial, Hassan Nawaz cleared his name from the title deed of the property by transferring the ownership to Malik Riaz as emerged in the latest investigation of the UK authorities.

The PTI government’s Chief Prosecutor, in charge recovering looted assets, Barrister Shehzad Akbar was instrumental in pursuing Sharif family in UK by mounting a legal challenge culminating in recovery of £190 million pounds of assets. It is a big boost to Barrister Shehzad Akbar personally but has also come as great victory for Prime Minister Imran Khan who had made it a political campaign to prove Sharifs are corrupt and that he will recover looted money from them.

This is an enormous boost to Khan’s standing among his followers who were about to lose faith in his government’s claim of Sharif’s alleged money laundering. Imran Khan must be a happy man tonight and he can now look into the eyes of his workers, supporters and voters and tell them that he has recovered Pakistan’s looted money.

But it is damaging to the Sharif family’s reputation and for PML-N itself. How come a young Hasan Nawaz can own a property so expensive in London’s posh areas? Why did he need to sell off in the run up to the Panama trial? Was it to kill any questions on the legitimacy of funds or his bonafide credentials as sole owner of the property? The Sharifs will struggle to answer these questions.

If PTI has any strategic understanding of communications, they can shred the denial narrative of Sharifs and PML-N on airwaves and digital media into pieces.
Riaz Haq said…
NCA agrees £190m settlement after frozen funds investigation

Settlement includes a UK property valued at approximately £50 million.

The National Crime Agency has agreed a settlement figure with a family that owns large property developments in Pakistan and elsewhere.

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.
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.
The NCA has accepted a settlement offer in region 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.
Riaz Haq said…
Why is the #Pakistan media silent about #MalikRiaz whose family purchased Hyde Park #London property from a son of ex PM #NawazSharif ? This is the largest such settlement by British crime agency. #Corruption #MalikRiazSettlementStory @TRTWorld

Malik Riaz has paid $250 million as part of a settlement with Britain’s money laundering investigating agency.
Most news anchors won’t speak his name during their programmes. A guest in a talk show was muted every time he mentioned his name. Mainstream newspapers ran cautious stories. Forget opinions and investigative features.

The story is about Malik Riaz, a Pakistani real estate tycoon, who just paid $250 million in a settlement and officials don’t want to discuss it.

On December 3, Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) said it had reached a settlement with Riaz and his family as part of a year-long fraud investigation.

The money, which was confiscated from bank accounts and an expensive London mansion overlooking Hyde Park, will be transferred to the Pakistani government, the NCA said.

Riaz’s family had purchased the Hyde Park property from Hassan Nawaz, a son of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who himself faces a corruption enquiry.

This is the largest such settlement since the NCA’s mandate was updated two years ago to investigate money trail of people who might have acquired wealth from illegal means.

Bahria Town, Riaz’s company, is perhaps the largest real estate developer in Pakistan. He has built housing complexes, apartment buildings and golf courses in lavish developments that come with miniature copies of the Pyramids and amusement parks.

The Pakistan government has refused to divulge details about the settlement, saying it has been reached under a confidentiality agreement.

Riaz himself tried to spin the story by saying he’s simply bringing back money kept in foreign accounts, saying he has sold the property.

He didn’t say that the NCA was investigated him and the assets had been confiscated.

In August, the NCA froze bank accounts containing more than $150 million, which were suspected to be profits linked to kickbacks and bribes. Those accounts belonged to Malik Riaz.

Earlier this year, Riaz agreed to pay the Pakistani state around $2 billion to settle a case, which involved the illegal occupation of thousands of acres of land in Pakistan’s biggest city, Karachi.

At the time, people had questioned how a businessman with little exposure to foreign markets had come to acquire such vast wealth in a country, which has time and again approached the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for bailouts.

“No one is developing real estate property like he does. Even his critics would want to go and live in his housing projects,” says a Karachi-based builder, who asked not to be named.

“There is an increasing dearth of homes in cities while the population is expanding rapidly. Young people are moving out of their parents’ home, siblings who once lived together in combined families, now want their own places. Malik Riaz has simply tapped this market on a grand scale.”

But Bahria Town faces accusations of manipulating land records and forcibly evicting people from their villages on the city outskirts to make way for its projects.

Riaz, a major advertising spender, has an outsized influence over media houses, which block coverage critical of the real estate tycoon.

“You can report on powerful military and extension issues of its commander but not Malik Riaz. You can imagine his influence,” a reporter told TRT World.

Bahria Town’s projects, which include thousands of residential and commercial properties, have also become a way for high-yield chasing investors to make quick money.

Thousands flocked to the Bahria Town offices when he announced a new project, trying to buy property documents, which are later sold at many times their face value on the underground market.
Riaz Haq said…
#WorldBank payouts to 22 developing nations during 1990-2010 were followed by a jump in their rulers' deposits in overseas heaven. #Oil price increases are followed by a spike in deposits held by rulers in financial havens. #corruption #MoneyLaundering

When autocratic, oil-rich nations enjoy a windfall from higher crude prices, where does the money go? One place to look is Swiss bank accounts. Sure enough, an increase in oil prices is followed by a spike in deposits held by these countries in financial havens, according to a 2017 paper by Jorgen Juel Andersen of bi Norwegian Business School, Niels Johannesen of the University of Copenhagen and their co-authors.

When Mr Johannesen presented this result at the World Bank in 2015, the audience included Bob Rijkers, a member of the bank’s research group. The two of them joined forces with Mr Andersen to investigate if something similar happened after another kind of windfall: infusions of aid from foreign donors. Their conclusion was dispiriting. World Bank payouts to 22 aid-dependent countries during 1990-2010 were followed by a jump in their deposits in foreign financial havens. The leaks averaged about 5% of the bank’s aid to these countries.

Riaz Haq said…
A sample of 29 transactions in #FinCENFiles that shows how suspicious transfers (#moneylaundering) to and from #Pakistan
$ 1,942,560
$ 452,000
Follow the Money
* Data represents a fraction of the total transactions found in the FinCEN files.

The data in the FinCEN Files transactions map contains information on more than $35 billion in transactions dated from 2000-2017 that were flagged by financial institutions as suspicious to United States authorities. The map only displays cases where sufficient details about both the originator and beneficiary banks were available, and is designed to illustrate how potentially dirty money flows from country to country around the world, via U.S.-based banks. The data in this map represents a fraction of the more than $2 trillion worth of transactions found in the FinCEN Files.

This map also provides information about the U.S.-based “correspondent” banks that allow financial institutions in more than 150 countries and territories to process payments in U.S. dollars.

The FinCEN Files is a cache of financial intelligence reports that reveals the role of global banks in industrial-scale money laundering – and the bloodshed and suffering that flow in its wake.

The records include more than 2,100 suspicious activity reports filed by nearly 90 financial institutions to the United States’ Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, known as FinCEN. The documents were shared by BuzzFeed News with ICIJ and 108 media partners in 88 countries and include information on more than $2 trillion in transactions dated from 1999-2017 that had been flagged by the banks as suspicious.

The reports reflect the private concerns of global bank money-laundering compliance officers. The SARs include a narrative along with attached spreadsheets of sometimes hundreds of lines of raw transaction data.
Riaz Haq said…
Between 2010 and 2017, a number of Indian banks, irrespective of ownership – public, private and foreign -- helped facilitate transactions red-flagged by the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) for suspected money laundering, terrorism, drug dealing and financial fraud, latest leaks suggest.

International Consortium of Investigative Journalism (ICIJ) obtained the top-secret Suspicious Activity Reports or SARs, worth more than $2 trillion globally. These transactions are not outright evidence of frauds or proof of nefarious activities, but are red-flagged by the US authority as suspicious.

While the data dump is available on the organisation’s website, so far it has meticulously tracked down 18,153 transactions totaling $35 billion, in which links between both sending and beneficiary banks have been established. The transactions were done between 2000 and 2017.

In case of India, the FinCEN files so far have established sender-receiver connections for 406 transactions involving all major banks, including the country's largest, State Bank of India.

According to the leaks Indian banks received $482,181,226 from outside the country and transferred from India $406,278,962. These transactions were red flagged to the US authorities.

A few large transactions are worth mentioning here.

Standard Chartered Bank, in a single transaction, transferred Merrill Lynch Bank Suisse Sa $8,173,378 on Jul 9, 2011. Bank of India received $119,548,135 in 19 transactions from DBS Bank between Nov 4, 2015 and Apr 14, 2016.

DBS Bank sent Allahabad Bank $144,248,998 through 26 transactions, between Nov 6, 2015 and Feb 23, 2016. Singapore-headquartered DBS also sent $162,381,261 to Indian Overseas Bank through 21 transactions done between Nov 3, 2015 and Apr 14, 2016.

Deutsche Bank AG sent its local Indian arm Deutsche Bank in India $53,520,418 in two transactions between Oct 25, 2012 and Nov 26, 2012.

India’s HDFC Bank sent Standard Chartered Bank $327,999,890 through 11 transactions between Sep 24, 2012 and Feb 15, 2013.

IndusInd Bank transferred HSBC $8,260,868 between Jun 13, 2008 and Nov 7, 2012 in 55 transactions. State Bank of India (SBI) transferred $5,791,055 to DNB Nor Bank Asa in 9 transactions between Jan 25, 2012 and Oct 9, 2012. SBI received $ 23,325,000 from Rak Bank through 6 transactions done between Mar 2, 2014 and Mar 23, 2014.

State owned Canara Bank received $ 2,761,523 from National Bk of Ras Al Khaimah Psc between Jul 24, 2013 and Nov 7, 2013 through 20 transactions. Bank of India received $11,214,476 from Rizal Commercial Banking Corp in 16 transactions between Jan 13, 2010 and Dec 23, 2010.

The latest transactions traced was where DBS Bank transferred $1,878,000 to Bank of Baroda between Jul 5, 2016 and Jul 5, 2016 in three transactions.

Even a small bank such as Tamilnad Mercantile Bank received $185,626 from Standard Chartered Bank between Dec 9, 2010 and Dec 24, 2010 in three transactions.

So far, ICJI has named these Indian banks in the dubious transactions -- State Bank of India, Punjab National Bank, Union Bank of India, HDFC Bank, Indusind Bank, Axis Bank, ICICI Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Yes Bank, Indian Overseas Bank, Canara Bank, Bank of Maharashtra, Karur Vysya Bank, Tamilnad Mercantile Bank, Standard Chartered Bank (India operations), Bank of Baroda, Bank of India, Allahabad Bank, Indian Overseas Bank, Indian Bank, Deutsche Bank (India operations), UCO Bank, Karnataka Bank, RBS, Andhra Bank, and Vijaya Bank.

Riaz Haq said…
6 #Pakistan #banks in #FinCENLeaks. Allied Bank 12 transactions worth over $1 million; UBL had 8 transactions $399,620; Habib Metro 2 transactions $74,980; Bank Alfalah 3 transactions flagged, receiving $99,480 and sending $452,000, etc. #moneylaundering

Six Pakistani banks have been named in an investigation on the role global banks play in money laundering by Buzzfeed News and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), for 29 suspicious transactions close to $2.5 million.

The banks named are Allied Bank, United Bank (UBL), Habib Metropolitan Bank, Bank Alfalah, Standard Chartered Bank Pakistan, and Habib Bank (HBL). All the suspicious transactions took place in 2011 and 2012.

Buzzfeed News had shared with ICIJ more than 2,100 suspicious activity reports, or SARs, filed by global banks to the U.S. Treasury Department’s intelligence unit, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, known as FinCEN.

According to the investigation, global banks moved more than $2 trillion between 1999 and 2017 in suspicious payments, and flagged bank clients in more than 170 countries who were identified as being involved in potentially illicit transactions.

Banks file SARs when they believe a client is using services for potential criminal activity, though the filing in itself does not require a bank to stop doing business with a client.

According to the data revealed by ICIJ, 29 such suspicious transactions to and from Pakistan were flagged. Of those, the ‘received’ transactions amounted to $1,942,560, while the ‘sent’ transaction was $452,000.

Allied Bank had 12 suspicious transactions flagged, receiving $1,001170; UBL had eight transactions flagged, receiving $399,620; Habib Metro had two transactions flagged, receiving $74,980; Bank Alfalah had three transactions flagged, receiving $99,480 and sending $452,000; Standard Chartered had four transactions flagged, receiving $199,860; and HBL had one transaction flagged, receiving $167,450.

Out of the 29 transactions, Standard Chartered filed 28 SARs with FinCEN, while The Bank of New York Mellon Corp., filed one. All of these transactions took place between September and December 2012, except for one transaction that took place in November 2011.

Riaz Haq said…
This is Hard Talk not Capital Talk, Ishaq Dar gets butchered on #Pakistani Twitter. Ex-finance minister feels the heat in #BBC interview with Pakistani trolls ready to pounce. #IshaqDar #Pakistan #PMLN #NawazSharif #Corruption | The Express Tribune

BBC journalist Stephen Sackur is known for grilling his guests on his show 'HardTalk and former finance minister Ishaq Dar was no exception as he was posed with hardhitting questions.

Soon after the interview was aired snippets were widely shared on Pakistani Twitter Dar answering Sackur's questions with #IshaqDar and #StephenSackur becoming the top trends in the country.

One Twitter user said that Dar expected the interview be like Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir's 'Capital Talk', however, he the PML-N leader was in for a rude awakening.

Journalist Shiffa Yousafzai drew attention to Sackur telling the former minister that "Nawaz Sharif worked hand in glove with Zia ul Haq and now the PML-N is complaining about military interference in politics".

Yousafzai added that the journalist interviewing PML-N vice-president would be "interesting"

Even the BBC journalist himself wrote on his Twitter handle that his interview had caused quite a stir in Pakistan.

The interview

Dar said PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif is struggling for democracy and supremacy of the parliament in Pakistan and the current government is a form of 'judicial martial law'.

The now absconding former minister said he does not accuse the army, as an institution, of undermining the democratic process in Pakistan but stated that "it is the will and plan of some people, the same people who enforce martial law in Pakistan".

When Dar was asked if the army or the army chief were undermining democracy, he said that the PML-N is not alone and international reports also have said the same. "I am not talking about the entire institution, we need to differentiate. These are the wishes and plans of certain people, the same people who enforce martial law in Pakistan."

"We are saying that if the elections were rigged, and this has now been proven, without doubt, someone is planning the entire thing. This is not us saying it, but the interior minister of Pakistan said that if Nawaz Sharif did not have issues with the institutions and the deep state, he would have become prime minister for the fourth time."

When asked if he had come to London seeking refuge as he is an absconder in Pakistan, the former finance minister said corruption allegations have been used repeatedly in the country's history and in the present circumstances, the current government is a "judicial martial law".

Riaz Haq said…
Dirty money flowing from #Pakistan to #UK. Latest #British crime agency report: “corrupt foreign elites continue to be attracted to the UK property market, especially in London, to disguise their corruption proceeds”. It names Pakistan among top sources.


National risk assessment of
money laundering and terrorist
financing 2020

The UK continues to have close economic links to Pakistan, including
significant remittance flows between both jurisdictions, which according to
estimates equated to approximately $1.7 billion in 2017.
12 These linkages
also enable and disguise illicit funds to be transferred between the UK and
Pakistan, including through illegal informal value transfers. Criminals
continue to purchase high value assets, such as real estate, precious gems
and jewellery to launder illicit funds which are transferred from Pakistan to
the UK and vice versa. This includes proceeds from corruption and drug
trafficking. The risk from cash-based money laundering from the UK to
Pakistan via smuggled cash and MSBs also persists.

HMRC visited a well-established cash and carry specialising in toiletries
and household products. Records selected for testing showed the
business accepted £4 million in relevant cash payments from export
customers based in high-risk jurisdictions, in particular Ghana,
Pakistan, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. The risks posed by these customers
had not been identified or addressed and no consideration given to
prohibitions in place surrounding movements of cash from these
countries. For example, the removal of cash from Ghana exceeding
$10,000 is prohibited, however the business accepted £2.4 million in
cash payments from its customers over a 2-year period. As well as
direct movements, unknown third parties resident in the UK delivered
cash on behalf of the overseas customers without considering the
origins of the cash or how the third parties were reimbursed. The
business’s policies, controls and procedures were insufficient to
mitigate the risks of money laundering and terrorist financing.
Riaz Haq said…
Talha ahmad
UAE landing in FATF "grey list" won't come as a surprise for those who are closely following the region. Regardless of Regional political dynamics and overall political nature of the body, UAE has serious flaws in the financial system, this move might cost around $8-10 Billion.


The UAE’s booming construction and real estate sector emerges as another major weakness. It accounts for a fifth of the Emirates’ GDP, but remains incredibly vulnerable to money laundering. Complex ownership structures can be used to obscure the identity of those buying property, as well as where their money is coming from.

Despite the UAE’s role as a major international hub for finance and trade, the report concludes that authorities there are not cooperating with international partners. This could make the Emirates an attractive location in which “criminals could operate, maintain their illegal proceeds, or use as a safe haven.”

The FATF report confirms what investigative journalists, anti-corruption activists and whistleblowers have been saying for years: the UAE is a key piece in the global money-laundering puzzle. Its susceptibility to money laundering has seen it appear time and again in major cross-border corruption scandals.

Here, we take a look at the shameful role of the UAE, and in particular Dubai, in some of the biggest scandals of recent years.
Riaz Haq said…
UAE Faces Risk of Inclusion on Global Watchlist Over Dirty Money

(Bloomberg) -- The United Arab Emirates is at increased risk of being placed on a global watchdog’s list of countries subject to more oversight for shortcomings in combating money laundering and terrorist financing, even after a recent government push to stamp out illicit transactions.

The Financial Action Task Force is leaning toward adding the UAE to its “gray list” early this year, one of two classifications used by the intergovernmental body for nations determined to have “strategic deficiencies,” according to people familiar with the matter, who requested anonymity because the discussions are private.

Should the FATF approve the designation, it would be among the most significant such steps in the Paris-based group’s three-decade history given the UAE’s position as the main financial hub of the Middle East. The FATF currently puts 23 countries -- including Albania, Syria and South Sudan -- under closer scrutiny, with only Iran and North Korea on its highest-risk “black list.”

“There are undoubtedly costs associated with being gray-listed,” said Katherine Bauer, a former Treasury Department official who led the U.S. delegation to the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force, a regional body modeled after the FATF.

“Many global regulators require that banks and financial institutions review, if not revise, their risk ratings and associated due diligence measures for counterparties in countries on the FATF list,” said Bauer, who’s now a fellow with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

The UAE submitted a report to the FATF in November but hasn’t reached many of the thresholds needed to stay off the gray list, the people said. The group is expected to make a decision at a plenary meeting set for late February. There are still several opportunities for Emirati officials to make their case to the FATF, including during a planned trip to Paris in the coming weeks, they said.

“We are taking this very seriously, having partnered with highly skilled and experienced specialists with a track-record in meeting best international practices and standards,” Hamid Al Zaabi, director general of the UAE Executive Office for Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing, said in a statement to Bloomberg News.

EXPLAINER: All About FATF, a Global Weapon to Fight Dirty Money: QuickTake

‘Fully Committed’

“The UAE is fully committed to upholding the integrity of the international financial system, which includes working closely with our partners around the world to combat financial crime,” he said.

A FATF spokesperson declined to comment. A gray-listing applies to countries that have “strategic deficiencies in their regimes to counter money laundering, terrorist financing, and proliferation financing” but which are committed to address the issues “swiftly,” according to its website.

In a report published in April 2020, the FATF questioned the UAE’s system despite what it called “significant steps” to strengthen regulations, including new legislation in 2018 and 2019.

“Fundamental and major improvements are needed across the UAE in order to demonstrate that the system cannot be used for money laundering/terrorist financing and the financing of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,” the group said at the time.

Since the FATF’s warning in 2020, the UAE government has taken numerous steps to better align with global standards on anti-money laundering and countering terrorist financing, according to Ibtissem Lassoued, the Dubai-based head of advisory in financial crime at law firm Al Tamimi & Co.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan PM #ShehbazSharif Calls Himself A "Majnoo" In Court. #FIA found 28 benami accounts, allegedly of Shehbaz family, through which an amount of Pakistan Rupee 14 billion ($75 million) was laundered from 2008 to 2018 Via 17,000 transactions. via @ndtv

Lahore: Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif testified today in a special court hearing in the Pakistan Rupee 16 billion money laundering case against him that he had refused to take any salary when he was the Chief Minister of Pakistan's Punjab province, and called himself a "majnoo" for doing so.
Shehbaz Sharif and his sons - Hamza and Suleman - were charged by Pakistan's Federal Investigation Agency or FIA in November 2020 under various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act and Anti-Money Laundering Act.

Hamza Sharif is currently the Chief Minister of Pakistan's Punjab province, while Suleman Sharif is residing in the UK.

The FIA investigation has detected 28 benami accounts, allegedly of the Shehbaz family, through which an amount of Pakistan Rupee 14 billion (USD 75 million) was laundered from 2008 to 2018.

The FIA examined the money trail of 17,000 credit transactions.

The amount was kept in "hidden accounts" and given to Shehbaz Sharif in his personal capacity, according to the charges.

"I have not taken anything from the government in 12.5 years, and in this case, I am accused of laundering ₹ 2.5 million," Shehbaz Sharif said during the hearing.

"God has made me the Prime Minister of this country. I am a majnoo (fool) and I did not take my legal right, my salary and benefits," Pakistan's Dawn newspaper quoted him as saying.

He recalled that the secretary had sent a note to him for sugar exports during his tenure as Chief Minister of Punjab province, when he had set an export limit and rejected the notes, the report said.

Shehbaz Sharif first became Chief Minister of Punjab province in 1997 when his brother Nawaz Sharif was the Prime Minister of Pakistan.

Following General Pervez Musharraf's coup in 1999 toppling the Nawaz Sharif government, Shehbaz Sharif along with the family spent eight years in exile in Saudi Arabia before returning to Pakistan in 2007.

He became Pakistan's Punjab Chief Minister for the second term in 2008 and he grabbed the same slot for the third time in 2013.

"My family lost PKR 2 billion because of my decision. I am telling you the reality. When my son's ethanol production plant was being set up, I still decided to impose a duty on ethanol. My family lost PKR 800 million annually because of that decision. The previous government withdrew that notification stating that it was injustice with the sugar mills," he claimed.

The Prime Minister's counsel argued that the laundering case was "politically motivated" and "based on mala fide intentions" by the erstwhile government headed by Imran Khan.

During the previous hearing on May 21, the special court had issued arrest warrants against Suleman Sharif, in the case after extending the interim bails of Shehbaz Sharif and Hamza Sharif till May 28.

Riaz Haq said…
From CBS 60 Minutes on "Londongrad" aired June 19, 2022:

For years, Britain actively courted Russian billionaires, ignoring reports that some of their wealth was suspect. Today, there's so much Russian cash in Britain, the capital has been nicknamed "Londongrad." British Intelligence has warned that oligarchs' money is propping up Putin's regime – and helping to fund the war in Ukraine. As we first reported in April, the U.K. is under pressure to show its Western allies it can stop the flood of corrupt money.

Dominic Grieve: Money has been flowing into the United Kingdom — absolutely no doubt about this — which often has had what I can only describe as a tainted source. But then Russia is a mafia state.

Dominic Grieve is a former conservative member of Parliament, who served as attorney general and chaired Britain's intelligence committee. His 2019 report on Russian interference in U.K. politics, found Britain was awash in Russian oligarchs' money — much of it from untraceable sources.


This is Belgravia. These neighborhoods around Eaton Square are some of the most expensive on Earth. Once the exclusive preserve of dukes and barons, now…


Oliver Bullough: There was a general feeling that if the money was coming here and paying taxes that was building schools and building roads and building hospitals, then we didn't care where it came from.
Riaz Haq said…
Why two luxury London homes are at the centre of Pakistan’s turmoil

The NCA said it had reached a settlement with Malik Riaz that included the house and £140m in funds, then valued at £50m, that were suspected to be recoverable under the Proceeds of Crime Act. Malik Riaz highlighted on Twitter that the NCA said the settlement “does not represent a finding of guilt”. Lawyers for the Riaz family and Bahria Town said their position “was, and always has been, that the property was legitimate and there was no reasonable basis for suspecting that it was recoverable”. Thanks to the settlement “there never was any finding that any of the property was recoverable”, they said.

The fate of that money has become a matter of huge controversy in Pakistan. Khan was arrested on allegations that in late 2019 he and his wife, Bushra Bibi, received more than 20 hectares of land and millions of rupees in exchange for allowing the roughly £180m in settlement money – which was returned to the state of Pakistan – to be used by Malik Riaz’s company to pay its own supreme court settlement.

Khan, who came to power after captaining his country’s cricket team to world cup victory over England in 1992, has vehemently denied corruption allegations against him and his wife, and has vowed to take on the military establishment.

Lawyers for the Riaz family said: “Under the agreement, the funds previously frozen would be paid against the judgment debt owed by [Bahria Town].” There was never “any order, or agreement, that the ownership of any property should pass to the state of Pakistan”.

They added: “The whole point of the agreement was to reach an amicable settlement in relation to the property, and returning the property to Pakistan to settle the judgment debt was the most satisfactory outcome for all concerned. The property was not judged to be the proceeds of crime and ownership of the property did not pass to the state of Pakistan.”

The recent turmoil in Pakistan had raised serious questions for the NCA over its role in obtaining funds from the settlement for the benefit of a wealthy property tycoon, anti-corruption campaigners say.

Susan Hawley, executive director of Spotlight on Corruption, a charity, said: “The NCA’s settlement on secret terms with Malik Riaz Hussain showed an appalling lack of judgment by the agency which is now coming home to roost. The deal raised very serious questions at the time about whether it allowed Malik Riaz to benefit personally from its terms, and whether it represented a robust enough response to allegations of wrongdoing. The fact that it has now become central to the political turmoil taking place currently in Pakistan should give the NCA reason to review whether settlements in cases of kleptocracy are ever really suitable.”

Malik Riaz’s family still appears to be linked to other properties in London. The NCA’s original application to freeze the bank accounts related to Malik Riaz has been obtained by Spotlight. In the application – withdrawn after settlement was reached – NCA officers highlighted funds held on behalf of Fortune Event Limited, a British Virgin Islands company. Ahmed Ali Riaz, the son of Malik Riaz and the chief executive of Bahria Town, was named by the NCA as an ultimate beneficial owner of the company. The same company is listed on the UK’s Land Registry as the owner of nine apartments in grand Victorian stucco-fronted houses on Lancaster Gate, also overlooking Hyde Park. Title documents for two of the properties list an email address containing part of Ali Riaz’s name.

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