Thursday, June 02, 2022

Cleared by UK investigation, Farhan Junejo says Shehzad Akbar tried to destroy him

Two weeks ago, UK National Crime Agency confirmed that it had closed money-laundering investigation into Farhan Junejo

(L to R) Ex-special assistant to the prime minister on accountability Shahzad Akbar, British Pakistani businessman Farhan Junejo, and former information minister Fawad Chaudhry. — Photo by author/PID/File
(L to R) Ex-special assistant to the prime minister on accountability Shahzad Akbar, British Pakistani businessman Farhan Junejo, and former information minister Fawad Chaudhry. — Photo by author/PID/File
  • Farhan Junejo blames Pakistan's Assets Recovery Unit for his ordeal.
  • Says he is "thankful to UK NCA for holding a transparent and unbiased investigation."
  • UK NCA confirms that it had closed a money-laundering investigation into Farhan Junejo.

LONDON: British Pakistani businessman Farhan Junejo has blamed the Assets Recovery Unit (ARU) of Pakistan for putting him through a living hell for four years through Britain’s National Crime Agency’s (NCA) £8 million money-laundering investigations into him.

Addressing a press conference here, Farhan Junejo thanked Allah for helping him clear his name after four gruelling years. "I am thankful to the UK National Crime Agency (NCA) for holding a transparent and unbiased investigation into me and sifting facts through the lies and coming to the conclusion that I have not done anything illegal, didn’t do any criminal activity such as money-laundering or corruption. Both Shehzad Akbar and Fawad Chaudhary ran my media trial for no reason."

Two weeks ago, the UK NCA confirmed that it had closed the money-laundering investigation into Farhan Junejo and that there would be no further action against the Sindhi origin businessman. In a high-profile action that made headlines on September 17, 2018, the NCA detectives raided the Surrey home of Farhan Junejo and arrested him for the alleged crime of money laundering and corruption. 

Within minutes of his arrest, former PM Imran Khan’s adviser Shehzad Akbar took to the airwaves and hailed Junejo’s arrest, calling it a big breakthrough and a success for the ARU. Shehzad Akbar had issued a charge sheet of corruption against Junejo, calling him a money-launderer who stole Pakistan’s £8 million, but the NCA investigation has established that Junejo was not involved in money-laundering and corrupt practices — ending the high-profile investigation.

Farhan Junejo told the media at the press conference that his life was almost ruined during the four years of investigation by the NCA. "I lost money, business, relationships, and peace of mind. The business losses can be recovered, but the pain that I and my family went through can never be compensated. 

"I have no words to describe how difficult it has been for me and my family. The ARU did everything it could to destroy me for political point-scoring. Shehzad Akbar and Fawad Chaudhary went on national television to defame me. They told complete lies about me to make their government look good. I suffered on every count after what they did."

Junejo said the PTI ministers talk about Madinah Riyasat but their actions are totally the opposite of that. "If someone wants to know about the principles of fairness, justice, and transparency that were prevalent in Madinah Riyasat, then look at the example of the UK, where people get justice, where I got justice. Rulers of Madinah Riyasat don’t lie, don’t fabricate, and don’t use state resources to abuse and destroy others."

He said that the ARU sent loads of papers to the NCA to get him prosecuted and punished on false grounds, but the NCA investigators didn’t believe in the political witch hunt and carried out an independent investigation, which made it clear that the allegations were false and aimed at political victimisation. 

"I was called the frontman of Asif Ali Zardari and Makhdoom Amin Faheem, it was said I owned London’s Churchill Hotel as Zardari’s benami, but all of this was baseless and false. Alhamdullilah, the truth has prevailed and the NCA found no links between me and any of the allegations made. The names of my family members, including my wife, sisters, and mother, were leaked to the media. My address details were leaked to the media and I was maligned all over the world."

The NCA investigated Junejo under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA) for the recovery of criminal assets – over allegations that Junejo had committed offences under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 by laundering to the UK the proceeds of corruption in Pakistan to the tune of £8 million while he worked for the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP).

Farhan Junejo said that the original case against him was framed by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in relation to the TDAP scandal. The documents that the ARU sent to the UK government have proven that there was no money laundering and corruption. "I request the FIA to drop this case and end my agony. The NCA is a super anti-corruption agency, and its investigation has proven that I didn’t do anything wrong. The FIA must end this farce."

Interestingly, the English lawyers for Junejo used interviews of Akbar and Chaudhary to defend Junejo before the NCA — and succeeded in pointing out that both Akbar and Chaudhary had run a media trial of Junejo and made completely false allegations which had no relation to facts.

The FIA had alleged that Junejo had laundered between 180-250 million rupees from Pakistan, but the charge sheet prepared by the ARU evidence failed to convince the UK authorities how the money transferred into almost a dozen accounts were proceeds of crimes or corruption.

Junejo’s lawyer said they were pleased Farhan Junejo has been cleared of allegations of corruption and money laundering. The Pakistani government ministers lied about Junejo for political gains, but the fair UK investigation provided evidence that the allegations against Junejo were baseless, said lawyers in a statement.