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Tuesday Jan 05 2021

Broadsheet vs NAB: London High Court's decision has exonerated us, says Nawaz Sharif

A Reuters file image of Nawaz Sharif.
  • Nawaz Sharif says he and his family have been exonerated by UK high court
  • Former premier says NAB cost national exchequer $50 million in legal costs, judgment
  • PML-N supremo says NAB should be held accountable

LONDON: Reacting to the London High Court’s decision in the Broadsheet LLC vs National Accountability Bureau (NAB) case, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif said that he and his family were exonerated.

In an attempt to retrieve payment for its services, the London firm had filed a claim to gain possession of Nawaz’s Avenfield residence on the basis that a Pakistani accountability court had directed the government to confiscate it.

However, the claim was dropped after Broadsheet LLC secured payment worth over $28 million from the Pakistan High Commission in London through a court-mandated third-party debt order issued in December.

The high court also ruled that the property owned by the Sharif family cannot be attached in the litigation between NAB and Broadsheet LLC.

Thanking God for “justice”, the former premier said NAB has endured an estimated $50 million so far in legal costs and judgment.

Speaking to reporters outside his son’s office in Stanhope House, Nawaz said it was “God’s system that we are getting exonerated”.

“The injustices against us have been answered by the London High Court,” he said, adding that the Sharif family was hounded over their assets but “they found nothing”.

Current NAB leaderships distances itself from Broadsheet LLC saga

The deposed premier criticised the anti-graft watchdog for wasting taxpayer’s money during the former military dictator General (retd) Pervez Musharraf’s tenure.

Nawaz said that instead of finding anything against the Sharif family, the Pakistani government ended up paying over $28 million to Broadsheet LLC and still “have to pay more”.

“Whose money is it? Why was it wasted? Was it wasted just to find out what Nawaz Sharif or other Pakistanis own? This money belongs to the poor people of Pakistan. Now they will raise power tariff to recover this amount,” he said.

Nawaz claimed that the entire investigation against him and his family was a “scam”, adding that the UK high court proceedings were “an eye-opener for the entire world to see what is happening in the name of accountability”.

The former prime minister said cases should be registered against the accountability authority and those behind it “who brought this mess on to Pakistan”.

“The people responsible should get exemplary punishment. There should be an inquiry into who was behind this all because the money wasted belongs to the poor people of Pakistan.”

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

When asked about Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed’s statement that Nawaz’s passport would be cancelled, the PML-N supremos said: “We are way above this. They should feel ashamed to say these things. Pakistan is mine, it's my country, are they the owners of the passport? I will go to my country whenever I want."

It may be added here that the London firm was hired by Musharraf in 1999 to trace assets of Nawaz, Benazir Bhutto, Asif Ali Zardari, and others. The contract was cancelled by NAB in 2003, following which Broadsheet LLC filed an arbitration case in the year 2006 and again in 2012.

In December 2018, a sole arbitrator issued an order for payment of $22 million to Broadsheet LLC by the government of Pakistan.

The government appealed the arbitration in July 2019 but was unsuccessful as the arbitrator found Pakistan (through NAB) wrongfully repudiated an asset recovery agreement with the London firm and ruled that the government has to pay damages.