LONDON/KARACHI: An open court hearing took place on Friday at West London Magistrates’ Court about the seized money during raids on Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) office and residence of its chief, Altaf Hussain.
Sarfraz Merchant appeared before the court along with his team of lawyers. MQM’s lawyers also attend the hearing on behalf of Altaf Hussain, Tariq Mir, Sarfraz Ahmed and Iftikhar Quraishi.
London Metropolitan Police’s counsel told the court that investigation in the money-laundering case was ongoing, therefore the cash seized from the buildings associated with MQM was subject to further investigation.
He said the money was confiscated under the Proceeds of Crime Act, 2002.
Later, a statement issued by MQM in Karachi said the party representatives attended the court as part of the ongoing civil claim by the Metropolitan Police service regarding ‘party funds’ currently in their possession.
“Both MQM and Mr Altaf Hussain stress that the funds in the possession of the police are entirely legitimate,” it added.
Convener of MQM’s Rabita (coordination) Committee Nadeem Nusrat said, “I am confident that the money will be returned to MQM by the court.”
“Due to the ongoing proceedings it would be inappropriate for the party to comment further at this stage,” the statement concluded.
Despite the continued investigation in the money-laundering case, MQM chief Altaf Hussain, Sarfaraz Merchant, Tariq Mir, Mohammad Anwar, Sarfraz Ahmed and Iftikhar Quraishi had been advised by the police earlier this month that they were no longer required to attend the police stations.
However, the police announced that being released from police bail did not mean that “no further action will be taken against them, no decision has yet been made, but it does mean that they will no longer be required to return to a police station”.
The police said that it will not return the cash and other items seized from the MQM office and Altaf Hussain’s house — during two separate raids — and will retain them under the under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, pending further enquiries.
“It is impossible to give a time limit on an investigation, we will continue to work diligently on the investigation and thoroughly investigate all of the evidence that is connected with the case,” the London police had said in a statement.
A police spokesman said that if it’s decided that anyone needs to be charged and prosecuted in this case then it will be done through “summons to attend court”. The police said that the six people released from the police bail could be re-arrested if “new evidence is received”.
A police source said that the decision had been taken because “it’s a complex investigation” and suspects can be put on the police bail only for a “certain time and not indefinitely”. She said that some people in the MQM-related investigation have been on police bail for over two years and it was not possible to continue with their police bails.