Pakistan hires UK-based lawyer in push to reopen probe against MQM founder

ISLAMABAD/LONDON: Pakistan has hired services of a British lawyer in a fresh push to plead re-investigation in a money-laundering case against the UK-based chief of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-London.

“We signed an agreement with Toby Cadman weeks ago to pursue the money-laundering case against the MQM-London chief,” a senior official confirmed to Geo News on Tuesday.

The London-based lawyer is expected to prove instrumental in gathering fresh evidence for Scotland Yard and the UK Crown Prosecution Service related to money-laundering cases against the MQM-London chief.

“Cadman would represent Pakistan in three MQM-related cases in the UK — the money laundering, hate speech, and Imran Farooq murder cases,” said the official, who is associated with the Ministry of Interior as well as the Federal Investigation Agency team investigating these cases in Pakistan.

British investigative agency Scotland Yard had dropped its investigations into the case in October 2016.

Cadman, who is an international law specialist, also defended former President Pervez Musharraf in the treason case and provided his services directly to the Panama JIT, dealing extensively with matters regarding the Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA). He is the co-founder of Guernica 37, a London-based chamber with a particular focus on defending victims of human rights abuses nationally and internationally.

Informed officials said that both the Ministry of Law and Justice and the office of the Attorney General of Pakistan have given their go-ahead to Cadman’s contract, which was signed on February 1, this year. Officials added that Cadman, according to the contract, would act on behalf of the Government of Pakistan in matters related to the MQM founder. The newly hired lawyer would also liaise with the UK Home Office, Scotland Yard, and the British government.

These correspondents have also learnt that the Pakistan High Commission informed officials at the Home Office in London last month that Islamabad has hired Toby Cadman to pursue all matters related to the MQM-London chief. The letter was sent by Pakistan High Commissioner in London Syed Ibn-e-Abbas to British authorities dealing with the cases of the MQM-London chief. A senior official who is closely monitoring the cases said that Pakistan would provide some more actionable evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service despite the fact that Islamabad senses complications involved with re-opening of investigation into the case.

Sources said that Cadman may charge Pakistan around 0.7 million GBP in this case, but government officials were not ready to disclose the lawyer’s fees. A source said that Cadman has been charging fees since February 1, this year.

Officials added that Karachi-based businessperson Sarfaraz Merchant — who played a key role in the opening of the money laundering investigation in the UK — was willing to provide fresh evidence in the case.

Toby Cadman also helped the Panama JIT look into the Sharif family’s London properties in July 2017, when he requested the British Home Office’s Central Authority International Criminality Unit to cooperate with the Pakistani investigation of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family. Through Cadman, JIT head Wajid Zia wanted British authorities to verify hundreds of British documents related to the case.

Geo News approached the Ministry of Law and Justice, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, and the office of the Attorney General of Pakistan for comments but they neither confirmed nor denied the latest development.

These correspondents also wrote to Cadman to ask when he signed the agreement and inquire about the total value of the agreed amount on which he pledged to work for Pakistan. He was yet to respond to the queries at the time of filing of this story.

Earlier, Toby Cadman spoke exclusively to Geo News at Heathrow Airport after visiting Pakistan for two days to meet the senior officials of Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), who registered the money laundering case against the MQM’s London-based leader on the complaint of Sarfraz Merchant.

Cadman said he met delegates from two institutions working on the case to discuss various cases against the MQM founder.

“I was impressed with the level of professionalism and how far the investigation has advanced and the quality of investigation that has been conducted, which, I believe is a comprehensive file that they now have which we can present to the Metropolitan Police,” he said.