UK Court Orders To Unfreeze Accounts Of Shehbaz Sharif, Suleman Shehbaz


UK Court orders to unfreeze accounts of Shehbaz Sharif, Suleman Shehbaz

The Westminster Magistrates Court’s Judge Nicholas Rimmer set aside the two accounts freezing orders (AFO) against Shahbaz Sharif and his son.

LONDON: (UrduPoint/Pakistan Point News-Sept 28th, 2021) A UK Court ordered to unfreeze the accounts of PML-N Chief and Opposition Leader in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif and his son Suleman Sharif, the latest reports say.

The Court announced the verdict after National Crime Agency (NCA) concluded that there was no evidence of money laundering, fraud and criminal conduct against the two.

It is a good news for the PML-N after a long time.

The Westminster Magistrates Court’s Judge Nicholas Rimmer set aside the two accounts freezing orders (AFO) against Shahbaz Sharif and his son.

NCA field the case in December 2019 on request of the Pakistan's government.

The agency moved a plea before Judge Rimmer to declare that its two-year high-profile investigation in the jurisdictions of Pakistan, UK and Dubai found no evidence of money laundering and criminal conduct on part of the two Sharifs who were investigated.

The reports say that the bank accounts of Suleman Sharif were frozen and Shahbaz Sharif’s accounts were probed through a December 17, 2019 court order and both were subjected to high-profile criminal forensic investigation under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA), conducted by the NCA’s Investigations Command at the International Corruption Unit.

The UK government froze the accounts after the Pakistani government had demanded assistance in recovery of criminal assets to the state of Pakistan, triggering a wide-ranging probe.

Following the order of the Westminster Magistrates Court regarding freezing accounts of both, Suleman Sharif’s declared Barclays account, Shahbaz Sharif’s HBL UK and Barclays account were immediately probed, seized and monies frozen.

The reports say that the NCA’s investigators sought consent from Shahbaz Sharif to have access to his closed Barclays account as well or else the account will be accessed through a production order. Shahbaz Sharif agreed to the consent on the advice of his lawyers.

NCA conducted investigation of the case by going back to 20 years and probed Shehbaz Sharif and his son's transactions. First they probed flat that Shahbaz Sharif bought in 2004 on Edgware Road when he was in exile and asked him to produce evidence of the clean origin of the money, including mortgage payments, sources of proceeds in his accounts, salaries and dividends, and full proceeds of the property purchase in the UK, bought during exile.

The NCA also probed Suleman Sharif’s Barclays account declared in Pakistan with the Federal board of Revenue (FBR) and looked into all transfers which were made from Pakistan after the State Bank of Pakistan’s approval. The NCA went through each receipt of transfers from the official money exchangers.

The government of Pakistan had requested the UK government to seize all assets and funds of Shahbaz Sharif and his family, and asked them to return the same to Pakistan and extradite Suleman Shehbaz with his family.

The Home Office was in the loop and a separate letter was sent to the Home Office requesting Suleman's extradition, as well as asking Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) ministry to probe Suleman.

Court papers show that two AFOs were issued by the Westminster Magistrates Court on December 17 for 12 months in case numbers 011902628734 and 011902628947.

A year later, on December 8, 2020, the NCA went to the court again, applying to extend both AFOs for six months, arguing that investigations were continuing in the UK, Dubai and Pakistan. According to court papers, Suleman Shehbaz agreed to the extension of the AFOs by the court on three applications filed by the NCA.

But on September 10, 2021, the NCA told the court that it did not find any substantial evidence about the accounts of both Shehbaz Sharif and his son as they were not involved in any criminal activity or illegal transfer of money

After hearing the plea of NCA, the court allowed to unfreeze accounts of Shehbaz Sharif and his son Suleman Shehbaz.

Fida Hussnain

Fida Hussnain is a lahore based journalist. He writes on politics, religion, social issues and climate change. He is also a research fellow at University of Gujrat.