ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has said that it is unfortunate that without seeking its permission amounts were remitted into its account and it was unnecessarily involved with money detected by the National Crime Agency (NCA) of the United Kingdom.
A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa, on Monday, released the written order of the proceedings conducted on the applications of Bahria Town Limited, Karachi (BTLK).
The order noted that in the account in the name of the registrar of the Supreme Court maintained by the National Bank of Pakistan, remittances were received from abroad; and as per the information provided by the Bank,10 remittances came from Fortune Event Limited, Mubashara Ali Malik, Bina Riaz and Sana Salman, Ahmed Ali Riaz, Mashreq Bank PSC, Ultimate Holdings MGT LTD, Premier Investments Global Ltd, Ahmed Ali Riaz, Wedlake Bell LLP.
The amount remitted from abroad from the account of eight individuals and entities was about GB Pounds 136 million or about US Dollars 144 million, which at the relevant time was converted to about Rs35 billion.
The Supreme Court consent order dated 21st March 2019 did not permit payments to be made from abroad or by the aforesaid. Therefore, notices were issued to them vide order dated 18 October 2023, and again vide order dated 8 November 2023.
However, only Mashreq Bank PSC, represented by advocate Rashid Anwar, came forward and filed CMA No9765/2023, attaching documents therewith explaining that it had sent an amount of GBP 19,999,984.27 from the account of Mubashara Ali Malik.
The order said that apparently, the NCA, set up under the Crime and Courts Act, 2013, and conferred additional functions under the Proceeds of Crime Act, 2002, had applied for and obtained an “Account Freezing Order” (AFO) from the Westminster Magistrate Court, and consequently, Mubashara Ali Malik instructed Mashreq Bank PSC to remit the frozen amount in her account to the account of the registrar Supreme Court of Pakistan. Anwar had told the court that the bank acted on instructions and has no claim on the amount remitted by it.
The order noted: “It is unfortunate that without seeking permission of the Supreme Court amounts were remitted into its account and the Supreme Court was unnecessarily involved with money detected by NCA, which probably were proceeds of criminal activity which was detected by NCA, seized and then frozen by AFOs.
The other persons/entities to whom notices were sent (except Mashreq Bank PSC) did not come forward to explain why monies were sent from their accounts to the account of the Supreme Court.“
“Apparently, these monies were used to offset Bahria Town’s stated liability, bringing to mind the idiom – robbing Peter to pay Paul.
Therefore, the amount received from abroad and the markup earned thereon be remitted to the Government of Pakistan. The Registrar of the Supreme Court and the National Bank of Pakistan shall do the needful in this regard.“
The order said that Bahria Town has not deposited into the account of the Supreme Court the installments it had agreed to pay for a considerable time, and is in default of the consent order. Therefore, there is no reason to retain the amounts in the account, and these amounts constituting a portion of the cost of land which is of the people of Sindh should be remitted to the Government of Sindh.
The court clarified that the amounts received from abroad in foreign currency and the markup earned thereon is to be paid to the Government of Pakistan and the balance amount in the account in the name of the Registrar of the Supreme Court is to be paid to the Government of Sindh.
It is further clarified that if any amount has been incorrectly noted herein the record of the National Bank of Pakistan should be treated as correct.
After the payments mentioned above, in paragraphs 16 and 17, have been paid, the National Bank of Pakistan should close the account in the name of the Registrar of the Supreme Court maintained by it.
The National Bank of Pakistan should submit a certified complete bank statement of the account and a separate certificate under the signature of the Bank Manager and co-signed by the President of the National Bank of Pakistan stating the amounts that were respectively remitted to the Government of Pakistan and the Government of Sindh and that the said account has been closed.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023