MQM UK properties belong to donors, registered party, says Merchant


LONDON: Sarfraz Merchant, the former donor and associate of MQM founder Altaf Hussain and Muhammad Anwar, has called on the MQM’s leader to return real estate assets of the party in the UK and elsewhere to the registered party as well as the donors who paid towards the purchase of these properties through donation.

In a letter sent through his lawyer Toby Cadman to the MQM’s International Secretariat here, Merchant has raised claim on the properties held by the MQM founder – mainly the two Edgware houses which are the centre of dispute between the MQM founder and his former aides Muhammad Anwar and Tariq Mir who are refusing to transfer the title deed to the beneficial owner of the party, Altaf Hussain.

Merchant was arrested along with Hussain, Anwar and Tariq Mir in June 2014 in connection with the money-laundering probe. He remained part of the probe for nearly three years before the police decided to close the investigation over “lack of evidence”. Merchant was arrested because he had transferred around £250,000 from his account as a donation to the MQM and some amounts separately to Muhammad Anwar.

Merchant demanded in the legal letter that it was his understanding that Hussain was no more the official leader of the registered MQM in Pakistan, therefore all properties and realisable assets currently owned and controlled by the MQM founder should be returned to the MQM Political Party in Pakistan, its supporters, financial donors, beneficiaries and its constituents.

Merchant’s lawyer wrote in the letter: “I have been instructed to serve you this legal notice due to the fact that the MQM Pakistan amended its Constitution to remove you as party leader and to dissociate itself from you in the United Kingdom. Mr Merchant has been a donor of significant funds to the MQM Political Party and the funds were used to support the party and its beneficiaries. It has come to my client’s attention that you were removed as party leader in September 2016, following an amendment to the party’s constitutional framework and this was officially communicated to the Election Commission of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. It is therefore quite clear that you have, since September 2016, acted without any lawful authority on behalf of the MQM Political Party and have retained and/or disposed of assets over which you have no lawful authority.”

The letter alleged that the MQM founder has disposed off his properties without “any lawful authority” and that “several real estate properties were purchased in the United Kingdom in the name of individuals who were officials of the MQM Political Party and were to be held in trust for the MQM Political Party as the beneficial owner”.

The letter claimed: “It is quite clear that if you have sold properties over which you have no lawful title or you have taken steps to transfer the ownership of properties over which you have no lawful title, this will constitute a criminal offence under English Law for which you may be prosecuted.”

The letter concluded: “You are therefore requested to kindly provide me, as the appointed representative of Mr Merchant, full details of all properties over which the MQM Political Party has the title or a financial interest along with full details of the sale proceeds of any properties already sold within a strict deadline of fourteen days. I must stress that should you refuse to provide such information with the stipulated deadline my client reserves the right to take legal action for a full recovery and the matter will be reported to the appropriate authorities should it be concluded that such conduct constitutes a criminal offence under English Law.”