By: Arshad Sharif

ISLAMABAD, JUNE 17: Government of Pakistan (GoP) and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) paid a staggering sum of atleast US$20.5 MILLION to Broadsheet for value of assets of Nawaz Sharif family which are still not in possession of the government, the orders of arbitration and UK court judgements revealed.

Shockingly, the government facilitated the payment to Broadsheet without contesting in the arbitration proceedings or appeals that the assets of Nawaz Sharif family were yet to be procured and secured by the government.

Interestingly, the Pakistani tax payers also paid US$1.5 Million (US$1500000) to Broadsheet for the Avenfield Apartments as settlement of damages claim to Broadsheet despite the fact that former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif continues to live in the same apartments in his material possession.

A sum of US$19 Million (US$19000000/-) was also paid for settlement of damages claim for other assets of Nawaz Sharif family which the GoP or NAB never acquired.

The fact that not a single penny was acquired by Pakistan is also mentioned in the settlement order that “There is no evidence, in short, that NAB has made any actual recovery to date.”

It baffles the mind how highest levels of Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf (PTI) government facilitated the payments to Broadsheet in December 2020 in this specific case amounting to atleast US$ 20.5 when no actual recoveries had been made by NAB and without putting a strong legal challenge on that account alone.

The arbitration award was announced by Sir Anthony Evans QC in December 2018 and the appeal processes continued till December 2020 without agitating that no recoveries had been made from the Sharif family as yet and Broadsheet could not be paid in accordance with the June 2000 agreement.

The agreement signed between Pakistan and Broadsheet in June 2000 clearly mentioned that payment of 20 per cent share of Broadsheet would only be made after “recovery” of assets and amounts.

Clause 4.1 of the June 2000 agreement between Pakistan and Broadsheet clearly stipulate, “NAB and Broadsheet agree that any assets recovered….”

Clause 4.2 of the agreement also mentions, “Broadsheet shall receive twenty per cent (20%) of the amount available to be transferred plus bonus if any, as may be allowed by Chairman NAB, and NAB shall receive the balance eighty per cent (80%) of the said amount thus recovered, less bonus if any, should the case so be.”

According to the arbitration proceedings for settlement of Broadsheet damages claim, the value of assets of Nawaz Sharif and family were estimated to be US$805.9 Million to US$820 Million.

“The total value of assets attributed to him in the evidence before me is US$805.9 million including US$622.2 million in Pakistan, US$54.1 million in Saudi Arabia, US$24.5 million in the UAE and US$105.1 million in the United Kingdom,” The Judge wrote in the settlement of award proceedings.

The fact that US$805.9 Million are only conservative estimates of asset value and the actual worth might be many times more than the gross figures presented in arbitration proceedings was acknowledged by the Judge when he wrote, “These are, however, gross figures that do not necessarily relate to the current value of the properties shown.”

The order details proceedings against Nawaz Sharif in the Supreme Court of Pakistan which eventually led to his ouster as third time elected Prime Minister of Pakistan and formation of JIT.

A forensic audit of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) report was carried out to identify potentially recoverable assets of the Sharif family and ascribing a valuation to each in the London arbitration proceedings.

“This resulted in a list of 76 items of property in three overseas jurisdictions, namely, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and the United Kingdom, as well as in Pakistan, with total values that were corrected in the Revised SF Report to take account of Mr. Bezant’s comments on it. The revised total was US$820.8 million,” read the arbitration order.

Subsequently, assets located in Pakistan were not considered for valuation of damages claim as Broadsheet’s activities did not include identifying assets in Pakistan.

It was held in the proceedings that the list of 76 items of property included funds no longer held by, or no longer recoverable from the Sharif Family, affecting up to 69 of the 76 items in the SF list and as much as 98% of the total value.

The judge noted in the proceedings, “I would not be prepared to accept that the relevant recovery rates would be as low as the range from ‘practically zero’ (for Saudi Arabia and the UAE) to 20% (for the UK) which the Respondents’ witnesses suggest. This is immediately relevant in one case, namely, the four Avenfield Flats which the Accountability Court has declared (subject to appeal) are the property of the Government of Pakistan, the Second Respondent in this arbitration. The values ascribed to them total US$13 million (items 62-65). If the Government has to prove its title before the English Courts, and then realises their value, I would expect (and I find) that the net recovery will be not less than about US$8 million.”

The judge noted that out of $820 Million assets, recovery of only US$100 million could be made from Nawaz Sharif family, if at all, and the damages claim of US$19 million was acknowledged on that “potential recovery” of other assets by NAB.

“I FIND that the appropriate valuation of the potential recovery from the Sharif family is US$100 million to be realised at some future date. Deducting 5% to take account of likely delay in eventual recovery, the net figure therefore is US$95 million and the Claimant’s share at 20% is US$19 million” wrote the judge.

It’s a 28.7 Million dollar question why Pakistani officials were in a hurry to make payments to Broadsheet when no recoveries had been made from Sharif family till date and the valuation in the arbitration is based on estimates of some future recovery if at all.

“Unless money is dished out, how people would get their share of commission,” said a well-placed source involved in the arbitration proceedings who saw how certain decision makers at the top facilitated payment of US$28.7 million to Broadsheet in December 2020.