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UK Court slaps $28.7 million penalty payment on Pakistan High Commission

Pakistan's National Accountability Bureau (NAB), an institution accused by political leadership for taking political maneuvering of the government and using it to nab top leaders of major political parties on charges of money laundering, assets beyond means and corruption worth billion of dollars, has been penalised for delaying tactics in submitting the penalty amount of at least $21 million to the country in the infamous Broadsheet LLC case.

A high court in London has ordered debiting at least $28.7 million from the accounts of the Pakistan High Commission in London over non-payment of the penalty by Pakistan's National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to the foreign assets recovery firm Boardsheet LLC.

As per the court's order, the amount had to be debited from the accounts of the Pakistan High Commission in the UK by December 30.

The development was also confirmed by Pakistan Foreign Office sources, who said that London had ordered debiting millions of dollars from the Pakistan High Commission accounts.

Referring to the court order, the United Bank Limited, UK, had also written a letter to the Pakistan High Commission on December 29, requesting to provide written payment instructions along with debit account details to ensure smooth transaction of $28,706,533.35, which should be as per the Final Third Party Order issued by the high court.

The bank had also notified the Pakistan High Commission that in case the written payment instruction was not received by December 30, the bank would still proceed with unilaterally debiting the high commission's account to meet the orders of the court.

On the other hand, the high commission responded to the bank, stating that any unilateral attempt of debiting their accounts for the payment would be a violation of the international law and a breach of trust, which would impact future course of relationship with the bank.

As per reliable sources, NAB's ignorance towards the sensitivity of the case and issue, has led to Pakistan's loss of millions of dollars.

NAB was awarded a penalty of $17 million by London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) in 2018, which was later added with a $3 million case cost. And in March 2019, the court awarded a $20 million final award.

As NAB did not pay the amount, addition of interest rate shot up the award amount to $28.7 million.

The penalty slapped with embarrassment on Pakistan's top anti-corruption watchdog, comes with reference to the case, in which Broadsheet LLC was hired by NAB during Musharraf's regime to trace hidden assets of 200 Pakistanis, which included former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and former President Asif Ali Zardari.

However, NAB terminated the agreement in 2003, due to which the firm's claim against Pakistan was worth at least $600 million..