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IHC Clears Nisar Afzal After UK Vindication, Slams NAB’s Handling of £60m Case

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court has annulled freezing orders on multiple properties belonging to British Pakistani businessman Nisar Ahmed Afzal. The court observed that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) exhibited high-handedness in its dealings, stemming from a case initiated at the request of the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) concerning an alleged £60 million Birmingham Mortgage fraud case.

Justices Mohsin Akhtar Kayani and Sardar Ejaz Ishaq Khan of the IHC noted that NAB froze properties in Islamabad in November 2021 for recovery on behalf of UK authorities, but failed to file a reference or provide evidence of criminality against the Afzal family.

Nisar

Interestingly, the NAB seized the properties after the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) announced the closure of the investigation in November 2021, citing a lack of evidence.

The freezing of Afzal’s assets in Pakistan was based on a 2017 request from the UK government, accepted by NAB in November 2021 when the original case had already concluded. The freezing included properties in Islamabad purchased long before the alleged UK offense.

The IHC heard that NAB took no action from 2017 until September 2021, when it moved to freeze properties without transmitting the cases to any court or concluding the investigation.

The judges criticized NAB for its conduct, stating that freezing orders cannot persist when the principal offenses are repealed, and highlighted the agency’s high-handedness. They pointed out that NAB acknowledged in a meeting that the investigation should be closed and referred to the FIA.

The judges criticized NAB for unfairly victimizing people and stated that the freezing orders, when no complaint has been filed in court for over seven years, demonstrate high-handedness. They allowed both writ petitions, setting aside the freezing orders.

Nisar Ahmed Afzal’s case is considered one of the most intriguing British investigations, marked by complex intrigues, bias allegations, racial prejudice, and investigator heavy-handedness.

In November 2021, the SFO dropped the probe after 15 years, confirming the closure of criminal proceedings and the return of seized assets.

The Birmingham Mortgage Fraud case, one of the UK’s largest, prompted Nisar Afzal to flee to Pakistan in 2006, alleging he was wrongly framed in a conspiracy.

Despite an arrest warrant, the UK government never requested his return. Nisar Afzal’s brother Saghir Afzal was jailed in 2011, with claims of a coerced guilty plea.

Throughout 15 years, Nisar Afzal contested the case, asserting he was a victim of abuse of power and did not commit fraud or criminal acts. He criticized the SFO for not properly investigating an individual named Abdul Ajram.

In January 2022, NAB announced court orders to seize land belonging to Nisar Afzal, but the NCA had offered NAB 50% of recovered assets. Nisar Afzal expressed gratitude for vindication in both UK and Pakistani courts, asserting NAB victimized him for a commission by seizing his assets.

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I am an accomplished graduate of Strategic Studies, driven by a fervent dedication to comprehending global affairs and devising impactful strategies. Equipped with a comprehensive skill set encompassing research, critical thinking, and persuasive communication, I possess a distinctive viewpoint and an unwavering commitment to fostering inclusive decision-making processes. As a versatile individual, I excel in collaborating with diverse groups in various settings, leveraging my strong interpersonal abilities to adapt seamlessly to new environments and surmount any challenges that arise. With a passion for contributing to strategic initiatives, I am eager to leverage my expertise and drive to effect positive change within the field.

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