The United Kingdom government-owned agency Department for International Development (DFID) has refuted claims made by The Mail on Sunday of aid money being embezzled and laundered by Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif and his family.
Rejecting the assumption that UK taxpayers’ cash meant for earthquake victims was stolen by Shehbaz, DFID maintained that “our robust systems protected UK taxpayers from fraud”.
In a statement, a DFID spokesperson said: “The UK’s financial support to ERRA over this period was for payment by results – which means we only gave money once the agreed work, which was primarily focused on building schools, was completed, and the work audited and verified.
“The UK taxpayer got exactly what it paid for and helped the vulnerable victims of a devastating earthquake. We are confident our robust systems protected UK taxpayers from fraud.”
The aid agency said The Mail on Sunday “provides little substantial evidence to support its headline” and that Shehbaz “denies any wrongdoing”.
“It [The Mail on Sunday article] says investigators in Pakistan “are convinced that some of the allegedly stolen money came from DFID-funded aid projects” without providing any substantial evidence this was the case with the earthquake fund,” said the DFID spokesperson.
“The piece goes on to quote Shahzad Akbar, Imran Khan’s Asset Recovery Unit chief, saying it “appears” some money “may” have been stolen from aid and development projects, again without offering any substantial evidence this was the case with ERRA,” the statement added.
“DFID also gave The Mail on Sunday some background on its work in Pakistan. We told the paper how DFID’s work is lifting millions of the poorest people out of poverty whilst improving stability and security in both the UK and Pakistan, which ultimately benefits the UK as well.”
“Over 10 million children in primary schools – including 4.7 million girls – have benefited from UK education programmes since 2011. Over 5.8 million children in secondary schools, including 2.7 million girls, have also benefited from our work,” the spokesperson added.
“In addition, the UK has supported over 8 million people in Pakistan following natural disasters and conflict since 2011.”
DFID’s denial came in the wake of a report published by The Mail on Sunday accusing former Punjab chief minister Shehbaz and his family of allegedly embezzling money from aid given by the DFID and laundering it in the UK.