Malik Riaz surrendering his £50 million London home considered the ‘largest asset recovery settlement ever’

Property tycoon Malik Riaz is surrendering to a settlement worth £190 million with the National Crime Agency (NCA) of the United Kingdom. The settlement offer of £190 million includes a UK property – 1 Hyde Park Place, London, W2 2LH – valued at approximately £50 million and all of the funds in the frozen accounts. The assets will be returned to the State of Pakistan.

The agency released a statement in this regard, which read:

The £190 million settlement is a 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.

The statement further read:

In August 2019, eight account freezing orders were secured at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in connection with funds totaling around £120 million. These followed an earlier freezing order in December 2018 linked to the same investigation for £20 million. All account freezing orders relate to money held in UK bank accounts.

What do the authorities say about the latest development?

The Assets Recovery Unit (ARU) confirmed the development, saying:

The UK’s NCA has agreed to an out-of-court settlement with a Pakistani family that owns significant property developments in Pakistan and elsewhere. The court proceedings were against the funds themselves, not against any named individual. The settlement is a civil matter and does not represent a finding of guilt.

Furthermore, the ARU revealed that the property included in the settlement was sold to the Malik Riaz family in 2016 by Hassan Nawaz, former premier Nawaz Sharif’s son.

A statement, released from the office of Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Accountability Shahzad Akbar, said:

Britain had agreed to immediate repatriation of the funds received after the settlement. It hailed it as a success story of close cooperation between the United Kingdom and Pakistan’s multiple law enforcement agencies and efforts made since last year’s Justice and Accountability Partnership created between the two countries.

Earlier settlements done by Malik Riaz

It is pertinent to mention that earlier this year, in March, the Supreme Court of Pakistan accepted an offer of Bahria Town (Pvt) Ltd – owned by Malik Riaz – to settle cases about its Malir or Karachi Superhighway project instead of payment of Rs. 460 billion.

The counsel representing the developer agreed to enhance their offer to Rs. 460bn from the earlier Rs. 450bn, and a deal was struck. A brief hearing about the implementation of the court’s judgment of the 4th of May 2018 followed, which stated:

It is held that the grant of land to the Malir Development Authority (MDA) by the Sindh government, its exchange with the land of private land developers (Bahria Town), and anything done under provisions of the Colonisation of Government Land Act 1912 by the provincial government was illegal and of no legal existence.

After the hearing, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed declared:

The offer is accepted.

The acceptance of the offer by the apex court restrained the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) from filing references against the directors and officials of Bahria Town. However, NAB is free to file corruption references against the developer after prior court permission in case of default in payment of the settlement amount during the period agreed to under the deal (which has been reduced to seven years from eight).

Story originally published in Dawn

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  • Dilemma is that the £190 Million received courtesy NCA has been handed over back to Malik Riaz by GOP.

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