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UK court orders debiting Rs 450 cr from accounts of Pak High Comm over non-payment of penalty by NAB


A British high court has ordered debiting Rs 450 crore from the accounts of the Pakistan High Commission in London over non-payment of a penalty by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to the foreign asset recovery firm Broadsheet LLC, according to a media report.

Following the court orders, the United Bank Limited UK wrote a letter to the Pakistan High Commission on December 29, requesting it to provide written payment instructions with debit account details to facilitate the payment of USD 28,706,533.35 in line with the Final Third Party Order issued by the high court, the Express Tribune reported on Thursday.

The bank also told the high commission that in case of non-receipt of the written payment instructions by December 30, it would have no choice but to proceed with unilaterally debiting the high commission’s accounts to meet the payment amount stipulated in the court order.

Citing sources, the report said around Rs 450 crore (USD 26,153,783.34) “NAB amount was lying in the UBL, London account, which is operated in the name of Pakistan High Commission in the UK”.

The high commission has sent a communication to the bank, conveying that any attempt by the bank to proceed with unilaterally debiting their accounts to make the payment would be a violation of the international law and a breach of trust that would impact the future relationship with the UBL, the report said.

As per the court order, the payment deadline expired on December 31. However, Foreign Office officials told the newspaper that the account has not been deducted. According to sources, due to NAB’s slackness, Pakistan faced additional loss of millions of dollars.

In November 2018, the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) slapped a penalty of USD 17 million on the anti-corruption watchdog. Later, USD 3 million case cost was added to the penalty. In March 2019, the LCIA slapped USD 20 million final penalty amount.

However, NAB did not pay that amount. And due to interest rate, the penalty amount reached USD 28.7 million by December 2020. Senior lawyers have already demanded stern action against the NAB officials responsible for this loss.

Based in the Isle of Man, the Broadsheet LLC was hired by NAB during the regime of former military dictator Pervez Musharraf to trace hidden assets of 200 Pakistanis, including former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and former president Asif Zardari, in foreign countries. NAB terminated its agreement with Broadsheet in 2003. The firm’s claim against Pakistan was worth at least USD 600 million.

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