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April 8, 2017

Merchant to approach court over MQM loan

Top Story

April 8, 2017

Says MQM owes him around half-a-million pounds; MQM says Merchant is welcome to approach UK judicial authorities

LONDON: The MQM founder’s former associate and financier Sarfraz Merchant has said that the MQM-London’s leadership owes him nearly half a million Pounds and he will take his case to London High Court if payment was not made to him sooner.

Merchant says he plans to approach the court to question the Crowns Prosecution Service and the Metropolitan Police about the weapons list found at the house of Altaf Hussain during a raid in middle of 2014 and the police statement that it had “credible evidence” that the MQM received money from the Indian government sources.

In an interview here with this correspondent, Sarfraz Merchant claimed that he had evidence to prove these payments and the same proof was available with Scotland Yard’s team which investigated the money-laundering case involving Altaf Hussain, Muhammad Anwar, Iftikhar Quraishi, Sarfraz Ahmed and Tariq Mir.

Sarfraz Merchant was co-accused in the money-laundering case along with the MQM founder and was arrested in the end of 2013 after the police found that dozens of payments were made from his account into MQM’s UK account for Altaf Hussain and payments into account of MQM’s senior figure Muhammad Anwar.

Receipts seen by Geo News show that these payments were: £200,000 to MQM UK for Altaf Hussain (from March-August 2013) and £256,923 into Muahammad Anwar’s account (from December 2012 to April 2014).

When the police raided the MQM office in December 2012, a packet containing cash from a London club was found in the office which, the MQM said in its affidavit submitted to the police, belonged to Sarfraz Merchant and Mr Merchant told the police in a written statement that he had given this money as donation to the MQM.

When the money-laundering case started centring on around half a million pounds cash found from the home and office of Altaf Hussain, several Karachi businessmen provided receipts stating that they had given donation to the MQM leader. It was, however, only Sarfraz Merchant who was arrested and made part of the inquiry because his payments to the MQM were the largest and direct into the MQM accounts from Merchant’s UK bank account.

Merchant explained that he gave donation to MQM in early December 2012 and then the MQM leader himself “requested for a loan in 2013”.

He explained: “The MQM was in trouble at that time and needed money to run its office and pay bills and expenditures. We made an agreement whereby I stepped in to help the party run its affairs. Tariq Mir, Altaf Hussain and M Anwar told me that since they can’t get money over in cash from Pakistan as they had issues with their accounts and any payment being made was getting under investigation, I should help them and I will be returned this money. I have sent letter to the MQM leadership to pay my money immediately.”

Speaking about the donation payment, Sarfraz Merchant said that the donation payment that he made had turned out to be illegal because the MQM was not a registered political party or charity in the UK therefore it could not claim donations. “The MQM misled me about MQM’s status in the UK. I need that money back. I paid that amount because I needed protection in Karachi and I would have been harmed if I had said no to MQM. This party remains strong even today and that’s why I am bringing this matter to public knowledge too just in case I am harmed or blackmailed.”

Sarfraz Merchant says that he wrote to the MQM leader a few months ago seeking his money back but “the MQM shut the door on me and asked me to communicate through its lawyers and not directly”. Informally, he claimed, the MQM passed message to him that the case was seized by the police therefore he should wait for the outcome of the case.

“Now that the case is over and MQM has accepted that it has been returned half a million pounds, it’s my claim that it’s my money and I have evidence to prove it.”

Merchant says he will ask questions about the weapons list that was found in the house of Altaf Hussain’s house. “We must know what happened to that weapons list, why no action was taken, where were those weapons used, where the ones those weapons were given to, in Karachi or elsewhere? The Scotland Yard has said on record that it has ‘credible evidence’ that the MQM received money from the Indian government and that its leaders made confessional statements before the police that it received money from Indian government.”

When approached for a detailed comment on Sarfraz Merchant’s plans, a spokesman for MQM-London said: “We would advise that Mr Merchant should approach the judicial authorities in the United Kingdom about any sums due to him.”