Pakistani billionaire hands £190m to UK FBI in out of court settlement after 'corruption and bri
ONE of Pakistan's richest men has agreed to hand over £190 million of assets and property to Britain's version of the FBI after it launched an investigation into "suspected bribery and corruption in an overseas country."
The National Crime Agency (NCA) confirmed this week it had agreed a settlement figure with billionaire property tycoon and philanthropist Malik Riaz Hussain, 65, (pictured above) and his family who owns large property developments in Pakistan and elsewhere, including Bahria Town, the largest privately held real estate development company in Asia.
An NCA spokesman said: "The £190 million settlement is the result of an investigation by the NCA into Malik Riaz Hussain, a Pakistani national, whose business is one of the biggest private sector employers in Pakistan."
SETTLEMENT: The 1 Hyde Park Place property was part of the deal (Google)
The settlement includes the exclusive London property at 1 Hyde Park Place, which overlooks the park, valued at an estimated £50 million.
It also includes all the funds in the bank accounts totalling around £140 million.
The NCA said The assets would be returned to the "State of Pakistan," but it is not clear why, or exactly, who will benefit from them.
An NCA spokesman said: "The NCA unit responsible for the settlement is principally funded by the Department for International Development (DfID) and therefore concentrates its resources where there is a clear link with countries that receive overseas development aid from the UK."
The settlement is a civil matter and does not represent a finding of guilt."
The move comes after the NCA was granted freezing orders on eight bank accounts containing a total of about £120 million that were linked to four members of his family and a number of companies, as revealed by Essex News and Investigations in September.
At the time the NCA said it was the largest amount of money it has ever frozen in connection with one investigation.
RECORD: Land Registry register showing ownership by offshore company
On paper, the Property at Hyde Park Place is owned by British Virgin Islands company Ultimate Holdings MGT Limited, according to Land Registry deeds.
It was bought from Hasan Nawaz Sharif, a son of former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif, 69, who held office until July 2017, when he was removed from office by the Supreme Court of Pakistan following revelations from the Panama Papers leaks about offshore companies that revealed details of some properties owned in London.
Land Registry records say the company paid £42.5 million for it in 2016 when Hasan Nawaz Sharif had a charge against the property and was listed on the title deed as the lender. Since 2017, the lender is now listed as the bank Emirates NBD PJSC, which now, instead, has a charge on the property. A bank account held by Ultimate Holdings MGT Limited with Emirates NBD Bank PJSC, was one of those that was frozen in August.
The NCA said the funds were held in UK bank accounts, but they were all with the Emirates NBD Bank PJSC, which has a branch in London, according to court listings for the case seen by Essex News and Investigations.
Emirates NBD Bank PJSC is owned by the Dubai Government and is one of the largest banking groups in the Middle East. The accounts were frozen for up to 12 months to allow the NCA to investigate "suspected bribery and corruption in an overseas country." It is not clear of that investigation will continue, or if the agency has agreed to stop it in lieu of the huge settlement. The fact that the accounts were frozen did not indicate that any wrongdoing had taken place, but it allowed the NCA time to investigate the allegations. Account freezing orders were introduced by the Criminal Finances Act 2017.
DEAL: Hasan Nawaz Sharif was the previous owner of 1 Hyde Park Place (YouTube)
They can be applied for when an enforcement officer has reasonable grounds for suspecting that money held in an account with a bank or building society is recoverable property under the Proceeds of Crime Act, or is intended for use in unlawful conduct. They can also be challenged in court by the owner of the account in question.
Another of the frozen accounts is jointly held by socialites Bina Riaz, 64, and Sana Salman who are wife and daughter respectively of Malik Riaz Hussain.
Two of the accounts are in the name of Ahmed Ali Riaz (Malik), 41, a son of Malik Riaz Hussain. His website described him as "chief executive officer of the famous Bahria town" and a "billionaire, young entrepreneur philanthropist." His wife Mubashra Ali Malik also has an account frozen. According to Westminster Magistrates Court listings, the couple share a villa in the Emirate Hills area of Dubai, a luxury gated community, said to contain some of the most expensive real estate in Dubai. Bina Riaz and Sana Salman are listed as residing at a separate villa in the same area. The NCA did not name any of the parties in a press release about the freezing order application, which was heard in private with no prior notice given to any of those involved. However, the names were published on daily listings for the court provided by the court service to the media.
FROZEN: Two of the bank accounts were in the name of Ahmed Ali Riaz (YouTube)
An NCA spokesman said in August: "The Account Freezing Orders (AFOs) were obtained at Westminster Magistrates Court on August 12, and represent the largest amount of money frozen using AFOs since they were introduced under the Criminal Finances Act 2017. "The orders will allow the NCA to further investigate the funds. If found to be derived from - or intended for use in - unlawful conduct, the NCA will seek to recover the money." Approximately £20 million held by an unnamed linked individual was frozen following a hearing in December 2018. Lawyers for the individuals and businesses involved claimed they should not be named and the release of the information by the court was a "breach of data protection." The court has not confirmed this to be the case and there were no reporting restrictions in place. For the past year, Mr Hussain, who denies any wrongdoing, has been fighting court action over business deals in Pakistan.
In March Pakistan's supreme court accepted an offer from his firm to pay £2.3bn to settle cases over a Karachi development scheme.