Shafaqna Pakistan:After three-day confusion as to who will be the beneficiary of 190 million pounds [Rs39 billion] recovered by the United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency (NCA) from the family of real estate tycoon Malik Riaz, the money has been transferred to the Supreme Court’s accounts and the government has requested it for the transfer of the money to the national exchequer.
“The money has been transferred to the Supreme Court and we have already filed a request before the apex court that the money should be given to us [state of Pakistan],” said Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Accountability Mirza Shahzad Akbar at a joint press conference with Communications Minister Murad Saeed. He later confirmed it during a private TV talk show.
Besides, he told Dawn that out of 190m pounds, 140m pounds had been transferred while 50m pounds would be received later when a property of 1 Hyde Park [owned by Malik Riaz] would be sold.
The SAMP, however, did not remove the ambiguity as to how the money can be transferred to the Supreme Court, if the NCA announced in its official press release that it will be given to the state of Pakistan. “We [the government of Pakistan, NCA and Malik Riaz] have also signed a deed of confidentiality. Therefore, I cannot comment more than what has already been presented in the official press releases of the government and the NCA,” he said, adding that: “Is the Supreme Court not part of the government? So if the money goes to the apex court it means that the money comes to the state.”
Earlier, when the NCA gave its decision on Dec 3, Mr Akbar had claimed that the money would directly come to the state.
Interestingly, hours after the NCA verdict, Malik Riaz had claimed, in his tweets, that the recovered amount would go to the Supreme Court to return Rs460bn for acquiring vast land in Karachi for developing the Bahria Town housing scheme. His tweets raised eyebrows of many as to why the government was not taking credit of the recovery.
Barrister Iftikhar, a senior legal expert on UK laws, said at the TV channel that there must be no link with the money repatriated by the NCA to the state and the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
Former attorney general Irfan Qadir said if the money went to the Supreme Court then the court will have to explain about it that how it came into its bank accounts.
Replying to a query that in one of the video clips that did the rounds on social media in which he was receiving a bag from Malik Riaz somewhere in the UK, Shahzad Akbar said it was nothing but a laptop. “It was my laptop as the bag could not carry 190 million pounds,” he added.
According to a press release issued on Tuesday by Prime Minister Office, the Assets Recovery Unit (ARU) in the PMO facilitated repatriation of 190 million pounds (approximately $250 million) through a settlement and that the NCA had agreed for immediate repatriation of funds to the state of Pakistan.
Responding to a question that will the government go for criminal proceedings against the real estate tycoon for being involved in money laundering, the SAPM said: “The government encourages agreements in civil cases and recovery of laundered national wealth and does not wish to keep people in jail.”
He, however, took credit of the recovery of 190 million pounds and said it was the first time in Pakistan’s history that money had been repatriated from another country through the legal process, adding that the settlement was reached in a civil case not a criminal one.
Mr Akbar said the government was thankful to the UK government and the NCA for expediting the investigation on the complaint of the government of Pakistan and returning the money to the motherland.
The SAPM was reluctant to elaborate as to how the money was stashed away and was there any political figure involved in the crime; he said as another country [UK] was involved in the matter, he was bound to confidentiality and could not comment on the details. “We have inked a bond of confidentiality with the UK government and therefore we cannot talk about the details of the case,” he added.