ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Accountability Shehzad Akbar on Thursday said the government encouraged settlement in civil cases as it does not wish to keep people in jail, while alluding to a settlement in a case concerning property tycoon Malik Riaz.
Addressing a press conference along with Communication Minister Murad Saeed, the PM’s aide claimed that this was the first time in the history that money had been repatriated from another country through the legal process. The National Crime Agency of the United Kingdom on Tuesday announced it had agreed to a settlement of £190 million with Malik Riaz Hussain to resolve an investigation into his assets in Britain.
In a press release, the NCA said it had agreed on a settlement with a “family that owns large property developments in Pakistan and elsewhere.” The settlement, it added, was the result of a probe into Hussain’s British assets and includes 1 Hyde Park Place, a property valued at £50 million, and the money in all the frozen accounts. These assets, it said, would be returned “to the State of Pakistan.” Commenting on the settlement, he said that it was important to note that the “settlement was reached in a civil case not a criminal case”.
The government cannot divulge further details due to a confidentiality agreement with the British government, he added.
“The details of 190m pounds [Rs 39 billion in rupees] recovered from Malik Riaz Ahmed could not be divulged, as Pakistan has to honour deed of confidentiality committed with the government of United Kingdom,” he added. Responding to a question, he said the civil recovery was easy in UK and the government was working on it.
Addressing Malik Riaz’s claims that the money had been paid to the Supreme Court, he said that the money will be taken from the SC and handed over to the state. He also maintained that the government was thankful to the UK government and the NCA [National Crime Agency] for expediting the investigation and returning the money to Pakistan.
To another question, Akbar said the repatriated money had a link with Hassan Nawaz’s property in London.
“Plea bargain option existed for [former prime minister] Nawaz Sharif as the government merely wanted to recover the [looted] money and does not want to keep anyone in jail,” he added. He said he was still waiting Shehbaz Sharif should sue the Daily Mail as claimed by him to preserve the honour and dignity of Pakistan and its people.
A day after Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif accused the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government of maligning him, Barrister Shehzad Akbar said the PML-N chief was at the helm of a ‘sophisticated money-laundering network’ operated from the Chief Minister Secretariat during his tenure in Punjab.
“A sum of over Rs7bn had been laundered by just one company Good Nature Trading Company through 200 fake Telegraphic Transfer (TTs),” he claimed, adding that the “assets of Suleman Shehbaz Sharif had increased by over 8,000 times over the past decade”.
He said a “new business empire was established [by Sharifs] by utilizing the corruption amount through a network of fake TTs, which was totally separate from the family’s business of Ittefaq Group”.
Sharing details of money laundering, he said Shehbaz established a “fake company [named as] Good Nature Trading Company and appointed his front men Nisar Gill as Director Political Affairs in CM Secretariat and Ali Ahmed as Director Policy CM Punjab”.
“These two individuals laundered money on Shehbaz’s behalf,” claimed the PM aide, adding that the company allegedly managed by Suleman Shehbaz was involved in business transactions of Rs7bn business, which are documented.