Payment to Broadsheet made on NAB, FO instructions: Basit

Pakistan High Commission in UK paid amount to firm in two instalments, says former ambassador


Khalid Mehmood April 02, 2021
Former Pakistan ambassador Abdul Basit. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

ISLAMABAD:

Amid allegations of suspicious payment to a UK-based asset recovery firm, former ambassador Abdul Basit has said that Pakistan High Commission in UK made the payment to Broadsheet (Gibraltar) on the instructions of the Foreign Office and National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

I was told by the Foreign Office in May 2008 that the settlement agreement with Broadsheet (Gibraltar) had been finalised and the recovery firm owner, Jerry James, would be paid through cheque, he said while speaking to the media on Friday.

The FO sent amount to the embassy via ‘special remittance’ because the PHC did not have the required sum in cash, he added.

His statement comes a day after federal the cabinet ordered to initiate “criminal investigations” against some prominent people on the recommendations of the one-man inquiry commission constituted to investigate the Broadsheet scandal.

The cabinet allowed criminal proceedings against former law minister Ahmer Bilal Soofi, the then legal consultant NAB; Hassan Saqib Sheikh, the then deputy director and desk officer of Broadsheet LLC for NAB; Ghulam Rasool, the then joint secretary of law ministry; Abdul Basit, the then deputy high commissioner at the Pakistan High Commission, UK; Shahid Ali Baig, the then director audit and accounts at the Pakistan High Commission, UK; and, Tariq Fawad Malik, the person who had introduced Broadsheet to NAB/Eehtasab Bureau.

Sources told The Express Tribune that the findings have revealed that the record of money transfer worth $1.5 million paid “inadvertently” to a company in 2008 was missing.

The former diplomat said the high commission was neither the legal authority nor a party to the settlement agreement and that his job as the deputy high commissioner was not to legally examine the instructions given by the Foreign Office.

Also read: Broadsheet inquiry names five main accused

The High Commission is not an investigative body, he said, adding that the money was paid to Broadsheet (Gibraltar) by the embassy in two instalments.

In the first instalment, Basit said over $600,000 were paid to the asset recovery firm while the second tranche was paid in September after his transfer from the post.

Basit questioned as to why the second tranche for the settlement was paid by the Foreign Office if the Broadsheet was a suspicious firm.

He said that the instructions to the High Commission were given directly by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and implementation on such instructions is a routine matter for the commission.

“Anyone who would be in my place would have complied with the instructions,” Basit said, adding that cheques given to Broadsheet do not bear his signature.

The former ambassador, during today’s media interaction, also claimed that the Broadsheet scandal inquiry report is ambiguous.

The ex-envoy said he only followed the instructions of NAB and the Foreign Office by handing cheques to Broadsheet.

Later, Basit said he also sent the payment record, a copy of the agreement and all other necessary documents to Pakistan through diplomatic bag on NAB’s direction.

He also lamented that inquiry commission report gave a wrong impression about the payment made to the asset recovery firm and added that he believed that there was nothing wrong in the transaction.

Basit urged the government to hold investigation into the matter of record misplacement, saying that the entire record was available until his transfer from the Pakistan High Commission in UK.

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