NAB seeks $17m for payment of penalty

Tribune

In December 2018, LCIA awarded the penalty to NAB in the infamous Broadsheet LLC case

ISLAMABAD:The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has sought $17 million for the payment of penalty to the foreign asset recovery firm Broadsheet LLC awarded by the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) in 2018.

Broadsheet LLC, based in the Isle of Man, was hired by NAB during Musharraf’s regime to trace the hidden assets of 200 Pakistanis including former premier Nawaz Sharif and ex-president Asif Ali Zardari in foreign countries.

The NAB terminated its agreement with Broadsheet in 2003.

In December 2018, the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) awarded penalty of millions of dollars to the anti-corruption watchdog in the infamous Broadsheet LLC case.

Later, the London High Court also rejected national graft-buster’s appeal against the award.

A senior official in law ministry revealed to The Express Tribune that NAB had sent a summary to the Finance Division for the payment and the matter would be forwarded to the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) for approval.

It is also learnt that an interest of 7% has been charged which is more than $5,000 per day.

Sources said that a meeting of relevant stakeholders had also been held to expedite the matter of payment.

According to the Global Arbitration Review (GAR), the firm’s claim against Pakistan was worth at least $600 million.

Former English Court of Appeal judge Sir Anthony Evans QC heard the case as sole arbitrator in London-seated proceedings under the rules of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.

In July, 2018, the arbitration body heard for four days a claim by Broadsheet against Pakistan and its anti-corruption body – NAB – at the London office of Allen & Overy LLP – the law firm representing NAB.

It is reported that two years ago, NAB’s defence law firm Allen & Overy LLP had been paid £11 million (approx Rs1.92 billion) and £2.5 million (approx Rs437 million).

The bureau has again engaged the same legal firm to argue the appeal before London High Court.

Case history

Broadsheet’s dispute with the NAB has a convoluted and colourful history.

The company was established by Colorado businessman Jerry James and entered liquidation proceedings in the Isle of Man in 2005, before being dissolved and then revived.

Meanwhile, James established a Colorado company with the same name and negotiated an agreement with the NAB in 2008 that purported to settle the dispute for $5 million, which the anti-graft buster’s officials paid.

He died in 2011, reportedly after jumping off the fifth-floor balcony of a Paris hotel.

A senior law ministry official believes there is a need to conduct a thorough inquiry in Pakistan to identify the officials who had engaged Broadsheet on “unfair” terms in 2002.

Likewise, an inquiry should be conducted into the “fake deal”, wherein $5 million of public money was apparently embezzled in 2008, the official added.

It also remains to be confirmed whether the payment was approved by the Pakistan Peoples Party or by the Musharraf regime.

Another official claimed that the payment of $5 million was made by the then-federal government and not by the NAB.

He also claimed that the name of a renowned Pakistani lawyer would come up in the scam.

Legal experts believe that due to the alleged fake settlements, the LCIA awarded penalty of millions of dollars to Pakistan.

Until now, more than Rs2 billion have been spent on the litigation.

In August 2016, the international tribunal judge Sir Anthony Evans upheld Broadsheet’s arguments that the 2008 settlement was not binding on it, as James had no authority to act on the company’s behalf at the time.

The same international tribunal held that Pakistan was liable to pay damages as NAB had wrongfully repudiated an asset recovery agreement with Broadsheet and committed a tort of civil conspiracy by entering into a sham settlement with a former Broadsheet executive.

The tribunal ruled that Broadsheet was entitled to damages in an amount to be determined.

Broadsheet was represented by Stuart Newberger of Crowell & Moring in Washington, DC.

Later, the quantum stage started wherein Broadsheet relied on information gathered by a joint investigation team (JIT) established by the Supreme Court of Pakistan to examine evidence concerning the Sharif family’s holdings.

Broadsheet submitted a forensic report from the security firm Stroz Friedberg, analysing the parts of the JIT report that were made public, while Pakistan had submitted a counter-report prepared by FTI Consulting.

Former NAB chairman Lieutenant General (retd) Amjad Hussain had also recorded his statement before the tribunal.

Ex-AGP, law minister urge probe

It has been learnt that both former Attorney General for Pakistan Anwar Mansoor Khan and ex-law minister Dr Farogh Naseem had written to Prime Minister Imran Khan and requested the premier to ask the NAB to conduct an internal inquiry into the embezzlement of millions of dollars in the case.

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