Pakistan has decided to use all avaiable forums against a U.K court’s decision debiting $28.7 million from the accounts of its High Commission in London for payment of penalty imposed on National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
As a first step, the Foreign Office has raised the issue with the British High Commission in Islamabad. However, it is not known what stance Pakistan government has taken to reverse the court decision.
The London High Court had on December 17 ordered the NAB to pay the foreign asset recovery firm, Broadsheet LLC, by December 30. The Pakistan High Commission also failed to challenge the order in time in the Court of Appeals. On the failure of the Pakistan High Commission to comply with the court order, the bank unilaterally debited the amount from its accounts.
The services of Broadsheet LLC were hired by the NAB in 2003 to find the assets bought through alleged ill-gotten money by more than 200 Pakistanis; including politicians abroad. The firm, however, failed to find a single asset of any Pakistani. The NAB ended its contract with the firm in violation of contractual terms and conditions, resulting in the firm filing a lawsuit at the London court.
The Foreign Office lacks in-house international law experts and relies on the office of the Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) for legal advice. The Foreign Office first contacted the AGP regarding the issue on December 29, a day before the court’s set date for the payment of damages.
Attorney General Khalid Javed Khan has reportedly urged the Foreign Office to raise the issue at the diplomatic level. He has also advised the Foreign Office to use legal options to overturn the court decision.
A senior official said debiting from the account of a diplomatic mission was a serious issue and should be contested. It is learnt that due to a delay in the payment, an interest of $5,000 daily was added to the penalty.
In November 2018, the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) imposed a penalty of $17 million on NAB. Later, $3 million case cost was added and in March 2019 and the NAB was ordered to pay $20 million. However, it did not pay the fine and due to addition of interest, the amount reached $28.7 million by December, 2020.