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October 27, 2018

UK seeks more info to seize Avenfield flats

Top Story

October 27, 2018

LONDON: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Accountability (SAPM) Mirza Shahzad Akbar has said that Pakistani government has asked the British government to seize Avenfield apartments owned by sons of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif but the UK Central Authority (UKCA) has asked Pakistan for more information.

Barrister Shahzad Akbar told Pakistani media here that a request is with the UKCA in which Pakistan has asked the British government to enforce the judgement of Accountability Court judgement but he said that British government has asked for further information which Pakistan is working to provide. “The Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) request is with the British government on Avenfield flats.”

Speaking to The News/Geo, Akbar said that the process of accountability is fair and not aimed at any particular party, family or individual. Shahzad Akbar said that during his three-day visit he had held talks with the British Home Secretary Sajid Javid; Debbie Price, the Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor of the International Justice & Organized Crime Division; Philomena Creffield, Head of the UK Central Authority; UK Special Representative on Afghanistan and Pakistan (SRAP) Gareth Bayley.; UK Prime Minister’s Anti-Corruption Champion and Member of Parliament John Penrose; and Donald Toon, NCA’s director of economic crime and cybercrime.

He said that during these meetings issues related to pending MLA requests of around 25 cases discussed. “We want these requests fast-tracked by the British government. What’s happening now between the UK and Pakistan is a departure from the past. There used to be no follow up in the past once MLAs were filed but that has changed and now new mechanism and treaties are being signed between law enforcement agencies of the two countries.”

The PM’s accountability adviser claimed that Britain has assured him that “requests sent by Pakistan will be given top priority as that’s the objective of Naya Pakistan to bring back looted wealth on emergency basis”. He said that mechanism around treaties such as extradition and prisoners’ transfer was discussed.

When asked about the case of Farhan Junejo that minister outed his name and one minister even claimed falsely that he has been charged by the National Crime Agency (NCA), Shahzad Akbar said that new information about Junejo’s case has been sent by Pakistan to the NCA recently. He said that Junejo was arrested on Pakistan’s request and released pending further probe but not charged.

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhary claimed that Junejo has been charged and is in jail but Junejo was questioned only for a few hours and then released. Since then, the BBC withdrew an article in which allegations of money-laundering against Farhan Junejo were published as in Pakistani press. It’s understood that Junejo has launched a legal case against BBC and as a result the BBC withdrew its article.

He said that during his meetings with the UK officials, matters related to the MQM founder Altaf Hussain were not discussed. “We didn’t discuss Altaf Hussain related cases or his money-laundering case,” he said in reference to the case which the UK police has closed already.

Shahzad Akbar said the impression that the NAB was partisan was wrong. “There are many angles to the UK in our drive against corruption. We are only assisting the NAB. British justice system will take action when all legal formalities and procedures are done and all; litmus tests are done.”

He said that Pakistan government was not concerned about properties bought through legal means and legal sources of income. He said, “We are going after properties which are suspected and could have been bought through proceeds of crime or the case of tax evasion and fraud.”

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