An anti-corruption charity organisation in the United Kingdom has said that Nawaz Sharif’s ability to stay in London raises questions for the country’s government and could lead to an immigration scandal.
Spotlight on Corruption is a charity that works to highlight corruption and promote transparency in the UK. In an interview with the Guardian, Spotlight’s excutive director Susan Hawley said that Nawaz had escaped justice by going to the UK and staying there.
“The fact that Sharif was able to escape justice in Pakistan by coming to the UK, then stayed on running businesses and directing political activities here is the real immigration scandal,” Hawley told the Guardian.
She added that the UK government seemed to be following different immigration rules for ‘corrupt politicans’ and genuine refugees.
Transparency International UK’s Ben Cowdock told the same reporter that Uk was becoming a haven for political elites from multiple countries including Pakistan.
“It is important that the property market here does not continue to act as a safe deposit box for corrupt politicians who have stolen from the people they represent,” Cowdock was quoted as saying in the story. He also said that UK’s law enforcement needs to create an impression that they are not a ‘soft touch’ on dirty money.
The article mentions the Avenfield apartments, four apartments knocked together to become one, as the source of controversy that led to the Sharif family being mentioned in the Panama Papers and ultimatley Nawaz’s ouster from office.
However, the Sharif family did not offer a comment to the Guardian except saying that their understanding of the matter was based on a ‘fundamental misunderstanding of the facts’.
However, Nawaz’s properties are not the only ones owned by Pakistanis that led to anti-corruption campaigners raising questions on the UK’s methods of dealing with wealth ‘stashed’ in London.
The story also mentions the Hyde Park place apartment owned by Malik Riaz that led to the NCA settlement and the £190 million case currently implicating Imran Khan.
“The NCA’s settlement on secret terms with Malik Riaz Hussain showed an appalling lack of judgment by the agency which is now coming home to roost,” Hawley told the Guardian.
“The fact that it has now become central to the political turmoil taking place currently in Pakistan should give the NCA reason to review whether settlements in cases of kleptocracy are ever really suitable.”