UK seeks more info for seizure of Sharifs’ Avenfield apartments: PM’s aide

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LONDON: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Accountability (SAPM) Mirza Shahzad Akbar has said that Pakistani government has asked the United Kingdom to seize Avenfield apartments owned by sons of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, but the UK Central Authority (UKCA) has asked Pakistan for more information.

Barrister Shahzad Akbar told Pakistani media here that a request was submitted with the UKCA in which Pakistan asked the British government to enforce the judgement of a Pakistani accountability court in this regard.

He said the British government has asked for further information which Pakistan is working to provide. “The Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) request is with the British government on Avenfield flats.”

Speaking to Geo News, the PM’s aide said the process of accountability is fair and not aimed at any particular party, family or individual.

He said during his three-day visit, he held talks with the British Home Secretary Sajid Javid; Debbie Price, the deputy chief crown prosecutor of the International Justice & Organised Crime Division; Philomena Creffield, head of the UKCA; UK Special Representative on Afghanistan and Pakistan Gareth Bayley; UK Prime Minister’s Anti-Corruption Champion and Member of Parliament John Penrose; and Donald Toon, NCA’s director for Economic and Cyber Crime.

Akbar said during these meetings, issues relating to pending MLA requests in around 25 cases were discussed. “We want these requests fast-tracked by the British government. What’s happening now between the UK and Pakistan is a departure from the past. There used to be no follow up in the past once MLAs were filed, but that has changed and now new mechanism and treaties are being signed between law enforcement agencies of the two countries.”

The PM’s aide claimed that Britain has assured him that “requests sent by Pakistan will be given top priority as that’s the objective of Naya Pakistan to bring back looted wealth on emergency basis”. He said that mechanism around treaties such as extradition and prisoners’ transfer was also discussed.

He said that matters relating to Muttahida Qaumi Movement-London founder Altaf Hussain were not discussed during his meetings with the UK officials. “We didn’t discuss Altaf Hussain-related cases or his money-laundering case,” he said in reference to the case which the UK police has closed already.

“There are many angles to the UK in our drive against corruption. We are only assisting the NAB. British justice system will take action when all legal formalities and procedures are done, and all litmus tests are done,” Akbar said.

He further said the Pakistani government was not concerned about properties bought through legal means and legal sources of income.

“We are going after properties which are suspected and could have been bought through proceeds of crime. Or the case of tax evasion and fraud,” the PM’s aide said.

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