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PMLN proclaims victory after UK restores funds

Advisor to PM says ARU never asked NCA to probe

SAMAA | - Posted: Sep 28, 2021 | Last Updated: 4 weeks ago
SAMAA |
Posted: Sep 28, 2021 | Last Updated: 4 weeks ago

Advisor to the Prime Minister on Accountibility Shahzad Akbar has rejected the reports in the local media suggesting PML-N leader Shehbaz Sharif or one of his sons Soleiman Shehbaz had been acquitted in the UK in an assets probe after Britian’s National Crime Agency (NCA) decided to restore Shahbaz Sharif family’s bank accounts.

His statement, however, has confirmed that the NCA has ended probe against Sharifs and decided to release frozen funds.

PMLN, on the other hand, has projected the NCA decision as its victory and a proof of vindication.

The issue has created ripples in Pakistani politics and put Shahzad Akbar on the defensive.

Brief facts

  • Soleiman Shehbaz transfers funds from Pakistan in 2019, according to Shahzad Akbar
  • December 2019, NCA freezes the funds transferred by Shahbaz Sharif family allegedly on the request of Pakistan’s Assests Recovery Unit (ARU). Shahzad Akbar denies it.
  • NCA initiates probe about the funds with a focus on money laundering allegations.
  • Monday, September 27, 2021, the NCA submits investigation report at the Westminster Magistrate Court requesting it to restore the funds.
  • Pakistani media outlets report on the NCA move, partly confirmed by statement from Shahzad Akbar.
  • The media houses in the UK, including BBC Urdu, offer no independent in put.

Shahzad Akbar

Shahzad Akbar said Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) had not acquitted anyone in any case because “there was no trial. Funds were frozen by NCA (which) decided to not investigate these funds”, he insisted.

NCA, he said, had not initiated this probe on the request of either Assets Recovery Unit or the NAB.

The inquiry was the result of a suspicious transaction reported by a bank to NCA. “Certain funds transferred by Soleiman Sharif from Pakistan to UK in 2019 were declared as being suspicious by UK authorities and NCA had secured an asset freezing order from (a UK) court.”

He claimed that the release of funds was not an acknowledgment that the funds (in question) “are from a legitimate source”.

The chief of the Asset Recovery Unit (ARU) said Soleiman Shehbaz “still remains a fugitive in money laundering case against him and his father Shahbaz Sharif” before an accountability court in Lahore.

PMLN response

PMLN has presented the decision by British authorities as a proof of its vindication.

Shehbaz Sharif said, “Today’s decision by UK court is not just my or Nawaz Sharif’s vindication but that of Pakistan too. Certainly truth has greater power than all the lies, fabricated stories & character assassination!”

PMLN’s Hina Pervez Butt claimed the NCA had investigated financial transactions spanning over 20 years and a British court had acquitted Shehbaz Sharif and his family from the money laundering allegations.

Maryam Aurangzeb took to Twitter to counter the statements from Shahzad Akbar.

Background

NAB proclaimed in June 2020 that massive corruption had been perpetrated by Hamza, Soleiman and Shahbaz Sharif and it would pursue and prove in British court that the accusations were true.

Reports on Monday claimed that NCA had launched probed after ARU sent a letter to the UK government on December 11, 2019, levelling serious allegation against Sharifs.

It was also claimed that the Westminster court has given a verdict against NCA decision to freeze the funds and after the court verdict the NCA restored the bank accounts of Shehbaz Sharif family.

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