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May 16, 2018

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UK top pick for Pakistani politicians' laundered money

LONDON: The National Crime Agency (NCA) has said that the UK is a prime destination for corrupt foreign Politically Exposed Persons (PEPS) to launder the proceeds of corruption, particularly those from Russia, Nigeria and Pakistan.

In its fifth analysis of serious and organised crime threats in the UK, the NCA said that it had prepared report drawing intelligence from UK law enforcement, government departments, the intelligence community and the private and voluntary sectors.

It said: “Money laundering potentially running to hundreds of billions of pounds impacts the UK annually, with a significant threat being posed by the criminal exploitation of accounting and legal professionals involved with trust and company provision. The UK is a prime destination for corrupt foreign Politically Exposed Persons to launder the proceeds of corruption, particularly those from Russia, Nigeria and Pakistan. UK cyber crime continues to rise in scale and complexity but under-reporting of data breaches continues to erode our ability to make robust assessments of the scale and cost of network intrusions.”

It’s understood that hundreds of Pakistanis have invested money in the UK, unknown to authorities in Pakistan. Leaders from almost every major political party have invested monies across the UK, mainly from PPP, PML-N and PTI.

When contacted, representatives of the three political parties, requesting anonymity, asserted that any investment made in the UK met all legal criteria.

The NCA said that there is evidence that the scale and complexity of organised crime continues to grow despite notable operational successes in the UK.

The report said that the scale of modern slavery and human trafficking in the UK is continually and gradually increasing, while a growing proportion of potential victims are claiming they have been exploited before arriving in the UK.

NCA Director General Lynne Owens said: “The National Crime Agency leads the response to serious and organised crime in the UK, protecting the public and targeting the criminals who have the biggest impact. We work closely with colleagues across law enforcement, and elsewhere, to do so. This year’s assessment shows that organised crime groups (OCGs) are exploiting digital technology, for instance using encryption to communicate, and dark web market places to aid their activities.”

“Criminals are continuing to develop international connections to increase the reach of their activity, and to maximise profits. We are also seeing ever-increasing crossover between crime threats, with finance at the heart of this. Organised criminals involved in smuggling of people or firearms also supply drugs, and the relationship between organised immigration crime and modern slavery is becoming more apparent,” he added.

“Criminal groups seek to make as much money as possible from the suffering and exploitation of others, and continue to put the public at risk. The increasing sophistication of crime groups, coupled with the changing nature of their geographical reach, demonstrates more than ever the requirement for an increasingly co-ordinated response. Working alongside our law enforcement, intelligence and other partners, we are changing the way we operate to ensure the biggest possible impact. We will use this intelligence assessment to build on our operational successes and evidence why further investment in capabilities and capacity is necessary,” he said.

When a new law called the Unexplained Wealth Orders (UWO) was introduced earlier this year, reports in Pakistan said that it will apply to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his sons Hasan and Hussain Nawaz but UK authorities have confirmed that the UWO will apply only to PEPs who are not British nationals and not from the European Economic Area (EEA). Hasan Nawaz Sharif, his family and Hussain Nawaz Sharif carry British nationalities.

The UWO allows the UK authorities to freeze and recover property if individuals cannot explain why they own assets worth more than their income and show they have acquired them legally is designed as a ‘forward looking’ law which will primarily deal with cases that arise in the future, rather than going back beyond six years, leading law experts have confirmed.

The UWOs are seen as investigative tools in the UK to try and help tackle the perception that the UK is a place where money-laundering takes place.

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