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September 17, 2019

Broadsheet moves court to recover award money from Pakistan

Top Story

September 17, 2019

WASHINGTON: Broadsheet LLC., the company that won arbitration case against the state of Pakistan and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), has reached out to the London High Court to help recover the award money from Islamabad.

The News has learnt through reliable sources that the company has filed an application requesting the court for "permission under section 66 of the Arbitration Act 1996 to enforce" awards since Islamabad has failed to pay up the penalty imposed by the International Arbitration Court. It also highlights in its application that "the award is final and has not been complied with," asking the court to apply interest on the judgment at a daily rate of almost $5,000 (Rs0.78 million).

According to sources, the company is "actively considering its options with regard to enforcement of the Part Final Award (Quantum)." Besides going after Pakistan's assets abroad, the company was also considering to seize the Avenfield apartments in London. In view of that, the company has told Islamabad, “We are aware of reports that Respondent [the state of Pakistan and the NAB] have already sought assistance from the United Kingdom Central Authority regarding the seizure of the Avenfield House apartments." The other assets the Broadsheet LLC is considering to seize are the Pakistan High Commission building and high commissioner’s house in London.

Imran Khan's Special Assistant on Accountability publicly declared in October last year that the PTI government had submitted a requestto the UK government, under the Mutual Legal Assistance programme, to enforce the judgment of Pakistan's accountability court and seize Avenfield apartments, apparently owned by sons of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. However, the UKCA had asked for more information.

The company's law firm also asked Islamabad's counsel to "confirm on behalf of your clients whether such efforts are continuing, and if Respondents’ request for assistance from the British authorities continues, please confirm that Respondents are asserting in such request that they have a legal interest in the Avenfield properties."

In a one page response to Broadsheet, Pakistan's counsel Allen & Overy told the company that "the Islamic Republic of Pakistan does not consent to service of documents from any enforcement proceedings of awards arising from the above referenced arbitration proceedings through its arbitration counsel Allen & Overy in London and does not waive the otherwise subsisting requirements as to service, such as those set out in sections 12(1)-(2) of the State Immunity Act 1978."

Before the British authorities could determine the fate of the property, Broadsheet has established that since Pakistan has claimed its ownership over Avenfield apartments, it can intervene the process and ask British authorities to handover the flats to the company. The estimated value of the apartments is considered around $30 million (Rs4.68 billion) - close to the amount Islamabad has to pay.

The London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) had penalised the Pakistani state and the NAB of some $22 million (3.43 billion) in the Broadsheet LLC case late last year. Islamabad in return had filed an appeal in the London High Court under the UK Arbitration Act in early March this year to review the award decision. The appeal was, however, rejected in July this year.

Broadsheet was hired by the NAB during former President Pervez Musharraf's regime to investigate hidden assets of over 150 Pakistanis abroad including the Sharif family. The agreement was later terminated by the NAB in 2003. The company then filed a claim against Pakistan. The arbitration body, in its decision, declared that Islamabad was liable to pay $22 million in damages as well as cost of the case to the company amounting to some $11 million, as NAB wrongfully repudiated an asset recovery agreement with Broadsheet.

After Pakistan's appeal, against the Arbitration ruling, was rejected by the London High Court, the company repeatedly asked Islamabad to comply with the decision. Crowell & Moring, Washington based law firm hired by Broadsheet LLC, sent a letter on August 19 asking Islamabad to pay the damages. "Following the judgment and order of Mrs Justice Moulder dated 12 July 2019 in your clients' challenge proceedings against the Part Final Award (Quantum), the award is now final and binding on the parties. We see no reason why payment should not be made now, notwithstanding the remaining issue of costs in the arbitration," the letter said.

Broadsheet's Washington based lawyers have told Pakistan that they intend to "pursue enforcement of the Part Final Award (Quantum) in whatever judicial forum it deems appropriate without further prior reference to Respondent [the state of Pakistan and the NAB].

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