JIT law firm is ‘one man show’

Wajid Zia's cousin Akhtar Raja’s Quist Solicitors is a one-man show and its accounts present the firm in poor shape

Wadood Mushtaq

LONDON: Head of Joint Investigation Team (JIT), Wajid Zia, has said that he chose to hire services of his cousin Akhtar Raja because of his professionalism and the repute of his company but an investigation shows that Raja’s Quist Solicitors is only a one-man show and accounts of the law firm present the firm in poor shape.

It has been alleged that Zia favoured his cousin Raja by giving him work in the UK while hiding the fact that his cousin’s law firm has been making losses and never carried out any financial and forensic investigation. However, an investigation shows that Raja has worked on a few big cases such as the case of radical cleric Abu Hamza and his extradition to USA but he is not known for any major cases or any high profile forensic or investigative work.

Zia says that Raja gave a 35 per cent discount to the JIT but he has not revealed the exact amount he paid to his cousin and it is not known on what basis he gave a sensitive case to his cousin's firm, out of all the law firms.

At least two close family members of Raja have confirmed that his wife, who lives with him in London's Hampstead Suburbs, is affiliated with a political party involved in the Panama case while Raja has been involved in arranging a tour for a Islamabad-Rawalpindi based religious scholar, who follows Sufism, to the UK in the recent past.

The relative said that Raja and his wife deactivated their Facebook accounts recently fearing that their pictures at political events will be copied and used by the government of Pakistan.

Research on Companies House shows that Raja made a few companies and either dissolved them for going into loss or their accounts were dormant. Evidence shows that Raja’s current law firm, Quist Solicitors, doesn’t operate from the prized Central London address given on its website. 

When this reporter visited the posh website address of Raja’s office at “12th Floor The Broadgate Tower” near Liverpool Street, the building manager said that Quist Solicitors only uses its postcode for receiving correspondence and its landline number is managed by a telephone banks company in Wales. It’s understood that Raja mostly works out of his home and his website confirms that he is the sole practitioner at his law firm along with another registered lawyer and this is confirmed by his law firm’s website.

Raja registered Quist Law Ltd (08450611) on March 19, 2013 using the address: 170 Church Road, Mitcham, Surrey, England, CR4 3BW and this company remains active and this was the company used by Wajid Zia. Companies House said yesterday that Raja submitted his company’s accounts to the Companies House as dormant made up to 31/03/2016.

But profile on legal regulator Law Society’s website provides information that only single person is working in the firm – which means that this firm is only a one-man show.

Raja registered Quist Human Rights Project Ltd using 170 Church Road, Mitcham, Surrey, England, CR4 3BW but a search shows that 49 companies have been registered at this address.

Record of Companies House shows that Raja submitted his company’s accounts to the Companies House as total small company accounts made up to 30 September 2016. The cash in bank is shown as £7,170 but the amount owed to creditors is £8,426 which means this company is in a loss for £717.

Raja registered a company called ‘2020 VISAS LTD’ using the same address (12th Floor The Broadgate Tower, 20 Primrose Street, London, United Kingdom, EC2A 2EW) that is currently being used by Quist Solicitors. His company remained active from 13/08/2012 to 22/03/2016 and then went under compulsory strike-off. He submitted his company’s accounts to the Companies House as dormant made up to 31/08/2014 and following this his company was struck out on March 22, 2016.

JIT has confirmed that Raja instructed the laboratory firm that said in its opinion that the Calibri font could not be used in 2006 at the time the deed was signed between Hussain and Maryam Nawaz.

Our Karachi correspondent adds: A person close to Raja while talking to this correspondent rejected all the allegations against the company. He said some elements are engaged in propaganda against Raja's company. He said the company has a wide range of clients.

This company works from the office and not from home, he said, adding that the company is engaged in transparent work.

This story was originally published in The News