Pakistan’s prime minister calls for ‘complete transparency’ from assets recovery firm on elites’ alleged money-laundering
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday claimed that information provided by the CEO of a U.K.-based assets recovery firm had once again exposed the “massive scale of our ruling elites’ corruption and money laundering,” adding they could not hide behind “victimization” over such revelations.
In a series of tweets on his official account, he said the same people had already been exposed by the Panama Papers scandal. “What do these revelations expose repeatedly? Exactly what I have been saying in my 24-year fight against corruption, which is the biggest threat to Pakistan’s progress,” he said. He went on to allege that these elites had only come into power to “plunder the country.”
According to the prime minister, the accused resort to money-laundering to “stash their ill-gotten gains abroad, safe from domestic prosecution.” Once they have parked their money abroad, he said, they use their political clout to get NROs. “That is how they kept their plundered wealth safe. People of Pakistan are biggest losers: not only is their nation’s wealth stolen by the elites, their taxpayer money, paid for recovering this wealth, is wasted because of NROs,” he added.
Khan said these revelations were merely the “tip of the iceberg,” suggesting there was more to come. “We want complete transparency from Broadsheet on our elites’ money-laundering and on who stopped investigations,” he added.
On Tuesday, Information Minister Shibli Faraz announced that the federal cabinet had formed a ministerial committee to investigate claims by Broadsheet LLC CEO Kaveh Moussavi that his firm had been approached by a relative of Nawaz Sharif in a bid to prevent their assets from being probed. The minister said the committee would compile a report on Moussavi’s allegations of a list of 200 people who had been earmarked for investigation, adding that this would be shared with the public.
In a subsequent press conference, Adviser to the P.M. on Accountability Shahzad Akbar clarified Khan’s tweets. He said the prime minister specifically wanted the identities of the people who had brought earlier investigations to a halt, as well as details of the 200 people who were to be investigated by it. He has also challenged the Sharif family to take the Broadsheet CEO to court if his claims of them attempting to bribe the firm as wrong.
Broadsheet vs NAB
Broadsheet LLC, a U.K.-based assets recovery firm, was hired by the government of Gen. Pervez Musharraf to help track down foreign assets of Pakistanis secured through allegedly ill-gotten wealth. The firm claims it entered into the agreement in June 2000 and was assured that it could retain 20 percent of all funds recovered.
However, anti-graft watchdog NAB terminated the agreement in 2003, with the firm taking the Government of Pakistan to court to seek compensation. Last week, the government agreed to pay it $28.7 million in damages after an arbitrator found that Pakistan and NAB had wrongfully ended their agreement with Broadsheet.