LONDON: The UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) told Westminster Magistrates’ Court it had frozen the assets of members of the Sharif family as part of its money laundering investigation “on the basis of correspondence with the ARU ”, according to a court document.
In the court document presented to a London court judge asking for court permission to extend the asset freeze order (AFO) to continue investigating Shahbaz Sharif and his son Suleman Sharif, the NCA told the court this the following about Pakistan Asset Recovery Unit (ARU):
“The grounds for suspecting that the frozen funds constituted recoverable property were based on correspondence with the ARU, the media at the time in Pakistan and the perceived incapacity of Suleman Sharif (SS) and Miah Mohammad Shahbaz Sharif (MMSS) to work legitimately. in the UK given their visa status.
The NCA’s request went on to say, “District Judge Tanveer Ikram (DJ Ikram), while noting that some of the information such as media reports was provisional, said he was satisfied with the information. that there were reasonable grounds to suspect the funds constituted recoverable property.
The NCA application, part of which was shown on the program “Naya Pakistan” conducted by Shehzad Iqbal on Geographic news, also informed the judge that a copy of the original request for an account freezing order was available on request.
The request also confirmed that the NCA was conducting an investigation in Pakistan to “establish the exact nature of the various investigations” into Suleman Sharif and that Shahbaz Sharif and Suleman Sharif “committed an offense contrary to Articles 327, 328 and 329 of the Product of the Law. on the crime of 2002 ”.
The ANC informed the court that “Pakistani law enforcement officials have confirmed that they are willing and able to participate in future investigations.”
The request to seek the continuation of the asset freezing orders was filed in Westminster Magistrates’ Court a year after the expiration of the original December 2019 freezing orders, which were granted by the court to investigate the Shahbaz Sharif accounts at Habib Bank. Limited UK and the accounts of Barclays and Suleman Sharif at HSBC and Barclays.
The request for an extension informed the judge that the NCA had received on October 13 “important elements” from the Pakistani authorities concerning the ongoing investigation into the criminal conduct of the SS and MMSS in Pakistan. The documents included a “Referral from the Court and an Investigation Report”.
The NCA told the court: “This investigative report concerns the acquisition of criminal property by MMSS and his extended family for a total amount of 7,328,000,000 Pakistani rupees (approximately £ 35 million). The alleged offenses in Pakistan are: the accumulation of assets disproportionate to known sources of income as defined in section 9 (a) (v) of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999; Money laundering as defined in article 2 of the Anti-Money Laundering Law (AMLA) 2010; Receipt of funds by dishonest means (65 million rupees) as defined in Article 9 (a) (iv) of the NAO 1999; Help, assistance and complicity in section 9 (a) (xii) of the NAO 1999. ”
The extension request informed the court that Shahbaz Sharif had been “arrested in Pakistan on September 28, 2020 in connection with the above investigation. He is currently detained in “judicial prevention”.
In September 2021, Westminster Magistrates’ Court Judge Nicholas Rimmer overturned the two Account Freeze Orders (AFOs) after the NCA filed a unilateral request to Judge Rimmer to declare that its investigation of two years in the jurisdictions of Pakistan, UK and Dubai found no evidence of money laundering and criminal conduct; that there were no cases to present and no “recoverable assets” for the government of Pakistan ”.