Malik Riaz Settles for $250 Million With UK; Frozen Assets to Be Turned Over to Pakistan

** The property included in the settlement was sold to Riaz family in 2016 by Hassan Nawaz, son of former premier Nawaz Sharif
** How does the $250 million settlement amount compare with IMF loan tranches to Pakistan?

DESPARDES — The National Crime Agency (NCA) UK has agreed to a US$250 million (£190m) settlement with Malik Riaz family that owns large property developments in Pakistan and elsewhere after a frozen funds investigation.

The NCA tweet said it has accepted a settlement offer in the region of £190 million (US$250m) which includes a UK property, 1 Hyde Park Place, London W2 2LH, and all of the funds in the frozen accounts.

The frozen assets will be returned to the State of Pakistan.

Britain has agreed to “immediate repatriation” of the funds received after the settlement, said a statement released from the office of Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Accountability Shahzad Akbar.

The Asssets Recovery Unit (ARU) revealed that the property included in the settlement was sold to Riaz family in 2016 by Hassan Nawaz, son of former premier Nawaz Sharif, reported Dawn.

The NCA said: “In August 2019, eight account freezing orders were secured at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in connection with funds totaling around £120 million. These followed an earlier freezing order in December 2018 linked to the same investigation for £20 million. All of the account freezing orders relate to money held in UK bank accounts,” said the agency.

“The £190 million settlement is the result of an investigation by the NCA into Malik Riaz Hussain, a Pakistani national…”, read a statement by the agency.

Earlier this year in March, the Supreme Court of Pakistan accepted an offer of Bahria Town (Pvt) Ltd – owned by Malik Riaz – to settle cases pertaining to its Malir or Karachi Superhighway project in lieu of payment of Rs460 billion (approx US$3 billion).

“Riaz’s real estate business is one of the biggest private sector employers in Pakistan”, said NCA. His real estate developments countrywide — known for quick and quality delivery — have been creating a sizeable home-ownership and investments pool — overseas Pakistanis first-time home owners and investors being one of the largest of Bahria’s revenue stream.

How does the $250 million settlement amount compare with IMF loans to Pakistan? The second tranche of IMF loan to Pakistan, worth $450 million, will be delivered to the country by the end of this year.

Pakistan received $1 billion from the IMF as the first tranche of a $6 billion bailout program for balance of payment support on July 10.

Experts say the IMF program carries strict conditions of fiscal performance, including but not limited to structural reforms, widening of tax base, increase in tax revenues, etc.

The government is also pursuing recovery of hidden assets of Pakistanis abroad worth several times the loans in billions it sought from the IMF over a decade.

Moody’s on Monday upgraded Pakistan’s Credit outlook to ‘stable’ from ‘negative’ citing its expectations that the balance of payments dynamics will continue to improve, supported by policy adjustments and currency flexibility.

The announcement pushed Pakistan’s stock market above 40,000 points– for the first time in 10 months — a sign of business community sentiments getting over the initial jerks, shocks and awes as PM Khan’s team stepped into the power corridors, in a first.