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Monday Jan 04 2021

UK court dismisses Broadsheet's plea seeking custody of Avenfield flats

  • Broadsheet had asked court to include apartments in case
  • Broadsheet had launched claim against Avenfield flats on basis of PTI request to British authorities
  • Broadsheet’s agent confirms that they have withdrawn application against Avenfield Apartments 

LONDON: The UK High Court of Justice has dismissed a plea seeking an order for the attachment of four Avenfield Apartments owned by the Sharif family in the Broadsheet vs Islamic Republic of Pakistan and NAB case.

Broadsheet had appealed to the court that the four apartments be attached to its application. 

The company argued that that since the confiscation of the Avenfield Apartments was ordered by Judge Muhammad Bashir of an accountability court in the Avenfield reference, the Pakistan government had interest in them and should be made part of the court proceedings and handed over to Broadsheet if Pakistan failed to pay it with the $29 million its owed. 

Broadsheet had launched its claim against Avenfield flats on the basis that PTI had requested British authorities to hand over Avenfield flats to Pakistan.

Geo News has seen four court orders issued by the Business and Property Courts of High Court of Justice, under The Claimant (Broadsheet LLC) and the Defendants (Islamic Republic of Pakistan and National Accountability Bureau).

On December 30, the government of Pakistan made a payment of nearly $29 million under a London High Court order to the Broadsheet LLC.

Read more: Pakistan pays Rs4.59 bn to British firm for lost case

Master Davison has written in the orders that he considered the application of the claimant dated June 16, 2020 and “ordered that the defendants’ interest in the asset described in the schedule below stand charged with payment of US$28,676,563.70 together with any further interest becoming due and the costs of the application (“the Interim Charging Order”) 4.”

Broadsheet had taken action against NAB and also launched an application at the Financial Division of the London High Court in October 2019. 

The company had argued that since NAB had declared its intention to seize Sharif family’s four apartments, Broadsheet had a claim on these flats. It had asked the court to issue freezing orders to allow the company to take control of these flats to sell them in exchange of the money NAB owed them.

In December 2019, the High Court appeal judge Sir Anthony Evans QC, as sole arbitrator, had issued an order for payment of $22 million to Broadsheet by the Pakistani government, but in July 2019, Pakistan appealed the arbitration unsuccessfully.

The arbitration court had found that Pakistan and NAB had wrongfully ended an agreement with Broadsheet for the recovery of assets. The arbitration court ruled that the company is entitled to damages and legal costs. 

Read more: Musharraf-era NAB hired offshore company to track assets of 200 generals, tycoons, bureaucrats

Judge Mohammad Bashir of the accountability court in 2018 handed Nawaz Sharif 10 years for owning assets beyond known income and one year for not cooperating with NAB. 

It was alleged that Nawaz Sharif’s family owned these flats worth around £8 million through ill-gotten means and the court also directed the authorities to confiscate the Avenfield assets. Nawaz was jailed in July 2018, till he was released on bail.

The “Third Party Debt Order” and “The Four Orders” confirmed that the addresses of the land requested to be charged were 16, 16a, 17 and 17a Avenfield House, Park Lane, London W1K 7AF - the titles to which are registered at HM Land Registry under Title No. NGL351184.”

Broadsheet’s agent told Geo News that it has withdrawn the application against the Avenfield Apartments after the court found that NAB and the Pakistan government violated the contract and were held directly responsible. 

The agent clarified that the government of Pakistan “did not pay voluntarily”.

The liquidation agent said: The seized money is now under the control of the Isle of Man court escrow account, pending the completion of the liquidation process. Broadsheet does things according to the letter of the law.

Read more: Pakistan pays Rs4.59 bn to British firm for lost case

Meanwhile, a Sharif family lawyer in London welcomed the order by the London High Court.

The lawyer said once the application was made for the possession of the flats by Broadsheet, the High Court of Justice was informed that any claim would be defended if required and that the procedure being adopted was not right as the matter was between Broadsheet and the Government of Pakistan and had nothing to do with the Sharif family.