Monday October 18, 2021

Failure to trace, repatriate Nawaz’s assets: Gen Munir terminated contract with Broadsheet

February 01, 2021

LONDON: The former National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman General Munir Hafiez told London High Court that Broadsheet was provided all help by Pakistani authorities and clearly told as late as November 2002 to find assets of Nawaz Sharif and continue investigating him but failed to make any recoveries or trace an assets outside Pakistan.

Lieutenant General (retired) Munir Hafiez served as NAB’s powerful chairman between 1st November 2001 to 31st October 2005 and he authorised termination of the contract with Broadsheet LLC and International Assets Recovery (IAR) towards the end of 2003 after realising that Broadsheet was providing no “tangible” help.

General Munir Hafiez in his witness statement told Sir Anthon Evans in July 2015 that Broadsheet provided limited help only in the matter of Admiral Mansur-ul-Haq after NAB provided every kind of information to Broadsheet.

Under Pervez Musharraf, General Amjad signed the Assets Recovery Agreement (ARA) with Broadsheet and International Assets Recovery (IAR) on 20 June 2000 to trace assets of Nawaz Sharif and his family and nearly 200 other “Targets”.

According to General Hafiez, a meeting between Broadsheet and NAB took place in London on 22nd September, 2002 to resolve the issues. The meeting was held as it became clear to Pakistan by January 2002, according to General Munir, that Broadsheet “was not succeeding in its objective and was not making recoveries from outside Pakistan”. On 15 January, General Munir wrote to Jerry James informing him of NAB’s concerns that there were 111 registered targets at that stage but a year and half later Broadsheet’s performance had been “without tangible results”. In the same letter, the NAB chairman told Jerry James Broadsheet “has not provided any updates on its investigations of the past 7 months” and no assets recovered.

At the London meeting, Broadsheet LLC’s Jerry James asked General Hafiez if Broadsheet should continue investigating Mian Nawaz Sharif. General Munir replied that Broadsheet “must continue”.

According to court papers available with this correspondent, at the same meeting senior NAB official Talat Ghuman asked Broadsheet to “move the Nawaz Sharif case with the British Home Office”.

General Munir informed Jerry James during the London meeting that NAB had not received any payments from Nawaz Sharif following his departure from Pakistan and that he would “advise Broadsheet if any overseas payments were received in the future”. General Munir told Broadsheet “there could be no scope of a secret or undisclosed plea bargain”. He assured Broadsheet that there was no “agreement between NAB and Sharif other than the media reports.” He stressed: “It was for that reason that NAB instructed Broadsheet to continue its investigations to locate, trace and repatriate any foreign assets of Nawaz Sharif.”

On 2nd November, 2002, General Munir Hafiez further signed a second power of attorney in favour of Broadsheet to continue those investigations focused on Nawaz Sharif.

Broadsheet had suspicions that Nawaz Sharif may have left Pakistan after making payments to NAB. By that time, Broadsheet had already racked up a bill of nearly £500,000 for hiring spy agency Matrix Research to investigate Nawaz Sharif and eight members of his family. Matrix Research Limited failed to find anything illegal and NAB was not impressed that Broadsheet had not come up with anything big against the main target.

When Jerry James asked General Munir for payment of £480,000 as “token of good faith” to pay to Matrix, the NAB chairman refused, saying there was no basis for such a payment and that his predecessor General Maqbool had made no such commitment.

Broadsheet requested a share in relation to five targets where assets had been recovered by NAB form inside Pakistan without Broadsheet’s assistance. General Munir said: “I didn’t authorise any such payment because of my understanding that Broadsheet was only engaged to locate, trace and repatriate assets outside Pakistan. This is where their efforts were actually required. To this point in time they had done nothing.”

General Munir said he spoke to General Amjad, General Maqbool and Farouk Adam Khan who all agreed that deal with Broadsheet existed only for assets located outside Pakistan only but later on Farouk Adam Khan wrote to him that “recoveries from targets inside Pakistan also fell within the scope of the agreement”.

In December 2001, NAB entered into a plea bargain of $7.5 million with Admiral Mansur and this was the only instance where a recovery of assets was successfully made by NAB from outside Pakistan. General Munir received a letter from Jerry James asking for 28% share on the amount recovered including the agreed 20% share as well as a bonus of 8% - which was not in the agreement.

General Munir told the court: “NAB had provided a lot of evidence and all that Broadsheet had done was take the necessary steps outside of Pakistan. I was taken aback.”

General Munir said on 15th July, 2002, Broadsheet told NAB it has located assets of Aftab Sherpao and requested charges to be brought in Pakistan immediately. “Broadsheet didn’t have any specifics and we asked but no response. NAB cannot just bring formal charge against a target immediately but needs evidence so that the courts can accept it. So far as I recall we didn’t have enough evidence at that time to charge Mr. Sherpao. For Broadsheet to tell us that certain offshore bank accounts had been discovered was in itself not enough to frame charges.”

General Munir Hafiez said that Pakistan issued an extradition request for Amir Lodhi in Monaco on Broadsheet’s request but Broadsheet couldn’t do anything as Lodhi slipped out of the country. He said Broadsheet failed in the case of Shahzad Munawar in the USA.

At the same meeting, Broadsheet asked that Jamil Ansari (linked with Admiral Mansoor) should be added in the target list but General Munir told Jerry James that Broadsheet should “stay focused on the targets that had already been registered” as at that time Broadsheet “had not come up any results for the existing targets” General Munir “didn’t see what benefit there would be for NAB by agreeing to add yet further targets to that list”.

General Munir explained that Broadsheet didn’t provide progress reports despite several requests and reminders and the reports which Broadsheet provided “didn’t lead to any recoveries” by NAB or Broadsheet from targets outside Pakistan”.

General Munir Hafiez told the court that as soon as he took over as NAB chairman, he was informed that Broadsheet was not performing as expected under the agreement and that “no concrete results had been obtained” but “I had wanted to give Broadsheet as much time as possible to meet its responsibilities but I became more disappointed with Broadsheet performance”.

He added: “It had also become clear that Broadsheet efforts and resources did not live up to the high expectations or the assurances that had been made by the representatives of Broadsheet”.

General Munir said Broadsheet’s performance was so bad that NAB was left with no choice but to terminate the contract. Kaveh Moussavi, Broadsheet’s CEO, has said that Pakistan didn’t let Broadsheet perform and made secret deals but General Munir told the court five years ago that Broadsheet was a useless organisation, which had no expertise, knowledge or know-how of assets tracing and it’s official only made false promises and provide useless information which led to no results but despite this he gave Broadsheet time and help to perform but it did nothing.

He explained: “By October 2003, there remained no doubt that Broadsheet was not going what was necessary under the agreement. My own impression was that NAB didn’t receive the performance that it had been promised.” NAB then discussed the matter with its London lawyers at Kendall Freeman and decided to terminate Broadsheet LLC and IAR contracts with immediate effect.