LONDON/ISLAMABAD (ENNS/MD) Pakistan made a payment of $28.706 million (Rs4.59 billion) to the British firm Broadsheet LLC after losing the long-running litigation at the London High Court.
The amount was transferred from the Pakistan High Commission (PHC) on behalf of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to the assets recovery firm — 17 years after it was hired to trace alleged foreign assets of dozens of Pakistanis which it failed to find any.
The London High Court’s Financial Division had issued on December 17 a Final Third Party Order for payment to NAB’s former client Broadsheet by December 30 — drawing curtains on a case that has cost Pakistani taxpayers billions of rupees.
Ironically, Broadsheet was hired by NAB during Pervez Musharraf’s government in 2003 to trace assets in the UK and USA of more than 200 Pakistanis (called ‘targets’ in the contract) including generals, politicians, businessmen — Benazir Bhutto, Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif as the chief targets.
The firm didn’t recover a single asset of any target anywhere in the world but its litigation against NAB started over the broken contract when the anti-graft watchdog ended its contract in violation of the terms and conditions.
A Pakistan High Commission source, on condition of anonymity, confirmed to Geo News that it had received the court order for the payment from the London High Court and had “no choice” but to comply with it. At the earlier hearings, the court held NAB responsible for contractual damages and breach of contract from the day it signed the contract to trace assets of Pakistanis.
On a hearing on December 17, the London High Court ordered that $28.7 million should be debited by 30th of December. After the order was made and its copies sent to the United Bank Limited’s branch near Oxford Street, Pakistan High Commission and NAB, the High Commission wrote a letter to the bank threatening that it will stop doing business with the bank if it made the payment to Broadsheet.
“The NAB had until 24 December to appeal the decision but NAB’s lawyers at Allen & Overy advised NAB that it has exhausted all legal options and any further litigation will increase costs on many folds including for Broadsheet, to the NAB lawyers, penalties and accruing interest,” said the source.
The Foreign Office officials in Pakistan have claimed that the High Commission account had not been deducted but the High Commission source in London said the payment to the Broadsheet is a legal matter and compliance is important or else face repercussions.
In June 2020, NAB had sought Rs4.41 billion from the Finance Division to clear $27.277 million outstanding liabilities of M/s Broadsheet. This was after the Broadsheet LLC won a case of arbitration against the NAB in the Chartered Institute of Arbitration, London. The Arbitrator had issued part final award (quantum) for $21,589,460.00 along with interest.
It also issued part final award (costs) amounting to $5,637,130.50 against the Pakistani government through NAB. The total amount payable stood at $27,226,590.50.