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Tuesday Sep 18 2018

Former secretary to Amin Fahim arrested in UK money laundering probe


LONDON/KARACHI: Farhan Junejo, the former secretary of late Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Makhdoom Amin Faheem, and his wife have been arrested in the United Kingdom in relation to a money laundering probe.

Britain's National Crime Agency on Monday said it has arrested a former Pakistani "politically exposed person" in connection with alleged money laundering in the UK believed to be a result of corruption in Pakistan.

A press release from the NCA's International Corruption Unit said it had arrested the man, in his 40s, and his wife, aged in her 30s in an investigation supported by Pakistan's National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

The couple, who were arrested in Surrey, control a UK property portfolio worth more than £8m for which they appear to have no legitimate source of income.

The man and his wife were questioned by NCA officers and have now been released under investigation, said the press release.

Sources told Geo News correspondent Murtaza Ali Shah that the couple was arrested three days ago and kept in detention for as many as 36 hours before being released. 

Although, the press release did not mention the name of the former Pakistani "politically exposed person", sources said that it was the late PPP leader's former personal secretary and that he was the main accused in a corruption case pertaining to the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP).

'Arrested person is a former public office-holder'

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Accountability Shehzad Akbar said that the person detained today is a former public office holder, who fled from Pakistan and invested money in London. 

He said that the Pakistani government was assisting the NCA from last seven days, adding that the Pakistani government will request a formal claim if the arrested person's assets are frozen by the UK government.    

Akbar said that over 30 similar cases have been identified in the United Arab Emirates. 

"Prime Minister will raise the issue in his Saudia Arabia visit. We want Britain-like cooperation with the United Arab Emirates," he said. "The arrest was made due to working partnership between Pakistan and United Kingdom." 

The state minister said that two cars worth Rs20 million were recovered from the arrestee, adding that the man invested money in businesses in the UK. 

"The money was transferred to Switzerland, USA, and UK from Pakistan via Dubai," he said. 

Akbar said that the Pakistani government cannot disclose the identity of the person before the conclusion of investigations as according to the UK laws. 

The development came in the backdrop of the joint press conference between Law Minister Farogh Naseem and British Home Secretary Sajid Javid held today. 

Both the official figures announced that the ‘UK-Pakistan Justice and Accountability Partnership’ would work towards repatriation of illicit finances, recovery of stolen assets and putting a check on money laundering.

The British home secretary said his country would ensure that no person could escape accountability, clarifying that the initiative would be broad-based and was not mean to target individual cases only.

Javid said the new partnership would be headed by a special envoy to expand cooperation between the two sides in curbing corruption. The Director of Economic Crime Unit would be representing the British side, he added.

Asked about the quantum of money laundering, the British Secretary said both the sides reviewed their commitments on sharing evidence to prosecute the criminals.