UK court orders NAB to pay $1.2m to Broadsheet

Dawn

LONDON: A London High Court has ordered the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and Pakistan government to pay a sum of 1.2 million dollars to asset-recovery firm Broadsheet LLC by next week.

After hearing the arguments from both sides, the court ordered NAB and the Pakistan government to pay $1,222,037 and GBP110 as well as the claimant’s application cost of GBP26,296 to NAB’s solicitors until 4.30pm on August 10. It said NAB’s solicitors Allen and Overy shall pay all sums received from the government of Pakistan to Broadsheet LLC’s solicitors Crowell and Moring by 4.30pm on August 13.

If this payment is not made by the government of Pakistan and NAB to its solicitors, and subsequently to Broadsheet, the court ordered that Broadsheet’s lawyers will notify United National Bank Limited (UBL UK) and that UBL UK will pay the outstanding funds. The failure to pay will trigger the enforcement of a third-party debt order, which allows a creditor to take the money owed to them directly from whoever has the money.

NAB and Broadsheet landed up in court once again after the two could not agree on the payments of legal costs and interests.

Lawyers on behalf of NAB agreed to pay $1,222,037 and GBP110 but contested the payment of interest demanded by Broadsheet amounting to GBP33,646.84 and costs of GBP35,000.

On Monday, the court ordered that along with the payment of $1.2m and GBP110, NAB and the Pakistan government must pay Broadsheet additional GBP26,296. The amount was less than demanded by Broadsheet for interest and costs.

Owned since the mid-2000s by Iranian-born former Oxford University academic Kaveh Moussavi, Broadsheet now stands liquidated. Moussavi, who was not initially involved with the company when it entered into an agreement with the Musharraf government, later funded the arbitration. He also served a year-long prison sentence in England for contempt of court in unrelated proceedings.

Broadsheet maintains that it was created to be a company specialising in the recovery of assets and funds, and was therefore engaged to trace, locate and transfer such items back to the state.

In December 2018, former English court of appeal judge Sir Anthony Evans QC, as sole arbitrator, issued an order for payment of $22m to Broadsheet by the government of Pakistan.

In July 2019, the government appealed the arbitration, but was unsuccessful in its bid.

The arbitrator found that Pakistan and NAB had wrongfully repudiated an asset recovery agreement with Broadsheet and ruled that the company is entitled to damages.

Since then, the asset recovery firm has attempted to secure the payment for its services by targeting several entities in the UK with purported links to the Pakistan government.

Broadsheet laid a claim to four Avenfield House flats, though the claim was later discharged by the court. Broadsheet LLC also wrote to the Pakistan government and threatened to “seize the assets of the Pakistani cricket team” to recover the outstanding funds owed by NAB.

Earlier, in its effort to recover the payment from the Pakistan government, Broadsheet’s lawyers even approached the Sharif legal team for assistance, but were denied.

In January this year, a high court in the UK ordered a debit of $28.7m from the accounts of the Pakistan High Commission in London over non-payment of the penalty by NAB to the foreign firm.

‘Disrepute to Pakistan’

While reacting to the new order against NAB in the Broadsheet case by a British court, Central Secretary Information of the Pakistan Peoples Party Faisal Karim Kundi said NAB was causing disrepute to Pakistan in the international arena.

He demanded the names of NAB chairman and accountability adviser be added to the Exit Control List (ECL) and that the parliament be told how much had been spent on NAB officers’ foreign trips and the fee given to domestic and foreign lawyers.

The former deputy speaker of the National Assembly alleged that trillions of rupees had been stolen and wasted with the connivance of NAB and the government against political opponents. Demanding closure of ‘NAB drama studio’, Mr Kundi said NAB was the creation of a dictator whose main job had been political engineering. Voices had also been echoed in the higher judiciary regarding the NAB’s political engineering, said Mr Kundi, adding that the fine imposed on Pakistan should be recovered from the chairman and directors of NAB who had been allegedly misleading the nation by fabricating false stories and ruthlessly squandering the national treasury and building their assets.

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