–Ex-govt official ‘politically exposed person’ controls property portfolio worth more than £8m
–UK’s NCA releases couple after questioning but investigations will continue against them
–Govt refuses to share name before conclusion of investigation to abide by UK laws
–2013 Tadap scandal accused Farhan Junejo the unnamed ex-govt official, report claims
British authorities briefly arrested a former Pakistani government official on Monday on charges of money laundering allegedly as a result of corrupt practices in Pakistan.
The UK’s National Crime Agency said in a press release that “officers from the NCA’s International Corruption Unit have arrested a former Pakistani Politically Exposed Person, aged in his 40s, and his wife, aged in her 30s, in connection with alleged money laundering in the United Kingdom believed to be the result of corruption in Pakistan”.
The couple, who were arrested in Surrey, control a UK property portfolio worth more than £8 million for which they appear to have no legitimate source of income, it added.
It was acknowledged that the investigation has been supported by Pakistan’s National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).
The man and his wife were questioned by the UK authorities before being released under investigation.
“The ICU, which is principally funded by the Department for International Development (DFID) and concentrates its resources where there is a clear link with countries that receive overseas development aid from the UK, investigates serious criminal allegations of bribery and corruption.”
“This includes bribery committed either by a UK-based person or company to gain commercial advantage overseas, or the investigation of money laundering in the UK committed by foreign Politically Exposed Persons,” the release concluded.
‘NAME CANNOT BE DISCLOSED’:
Later on, PM’s Special Assistant on Accountability Shahzad Akbar told media that the ‘looted money’ was laundered to the UK through hawala/hundi by first making the transfer to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Akbar said that the Pakistani government cannot disclose the identity of the person before the conclusion of investigation in accordance with the UK laws.
“The money was transferred to Switzerland, USA, and UK from Pakistan via Dubai,” he said.
He said that the person who was detained is a former public office holder “who escaped from Pakistan and invested money in London.”
Akbar said that the Pakistani government was assisting the NCA from last seven days, adding that the Pakistani government will request a formal claim if the arrested person’s assets are frozen by the UK government.
Akbar said that over 30 similar cases have been identified in the UAE.
“Prime Minister will raise the issue in his Saudia Arabia visit. We want Britain-like cooperation with the UAE,” he said. “The arrest was made due to working partnership between Pakistan and UK.”
The special assistant said that two cars worth Rs20 million were recovered from the arrestee, adding that the man invested money in businesses in the UK.
‘FARHAN JUNEJO IS THE ACCUSED’:
A local media outlet reported that the name of the person arrested on money laundering charges is Farhan Junejo, an accused in the 2013 Tadap laundering scandal.
In the 2013 Tadap scandal, the FIA had found evidence of billions of rupees being transferred to accounts abroad, alleging the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TADAP) officials laundered money. Junejo, the former director to the ex-minister for industries and trade, allegedly transferred Rs250 million of corruption money through hawala and hundi.
According to the report, Farhan Junejo was illegally involved in corrupt practices in which he looted money. He was trying to escape to the United States but arrested in the NCA’s inquiry, it added.
Junejo was designed as the PSO to ex-commerce minister late Makhdoom Amin Fahim. The report claimed that he controlled all the routes to the minister.
It is pertinent to mention that the development comes on the same day when the UK and Pakistan reached an agreement to work towards curbing money-laundering and repatriating assets stashed away by Pakistanis in the UK.
The announcement with regard to the accord titled ‘Justice and Accountability’ was made during a joint press conference addressed by British Home Secretary Sajid Javed and Minister for Law and Justice Farogh Naseem here in Islamabad.
As per the accord, the two countries will make efforts afresh to tackle money laundering and help Islamabad bring back the assets stashed away by Pakistanis in the UK.