LONDON: Britain’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has dropped a wide-ranging investigation into famous British Pakistani businessman Nisar Ahmed Afzal after investigating alleged mortgage fraud worth £50million.
SFO officials have confirmed that the criminal proceedings against Afzal of Birmingham have been terminated, his seized assets have been returned and he is no longer subject to a warrant of arrest or restraining orders (ROs).
The Birmingham mortgage fraud case has become one of the biggest such cases in UK history. Nisar Afzal fled to Pakistan in 2006 at the start of investigations that spanned more than 15 years in the UK and Pakistan. Afzal argued that he was wrongfully accused in the case of a high-profile conspiracy and would not get justice under the given circumstances.
The Birmingham Mortgage Fraud case is considered to be one of the largest and most complex cases that the OFS has investigated with the assistance of the National Crime Agency (NCA) and the cooperation of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) from Pakistan. In May 2019, a senior NCA investigator visited NAB’s office in Rawalpindi to obtain evidence that could corroborate “bank transaction data already obtained in the UK”, according to a letter written by NCA to NAB.
The £50million mortgage fraud in Birmingham, according to the SFO, took place between 2004 and 2006 and the offenses included two counts of conspiracy to obtain money transfers by deception and four counts of obtaining money transfer by deception.
Exactly ten years ago, the SFO told this reporter they believed Afzal had taken at least £26million with him. “We want Nisar Ahmad Afzal back in the UK to stand trial and we have a warrant for his arrest. If he returns to the UK, he will be charged. A lawyer for Afzal told The News that Nisar was arrested in Pakistan on the instructions of a senior PPP leader who was in government in 2011.
This case had twists and turns like few other cases. Not only has the investigation been going on for over 15 years, but there has been a highly publicized kidnapping of Nasir Afzal in Pakistan; his younger brother’s guilty plea under “duress”; the Serious Fraud Office asking for the adjournment of the case and accepting in open court that they have no chance of success if the defense of Nisar Afzal is founded; most of the accused being acquitted or hanged by jurors; Extensive cooperation between the UK and Pakistan and eventually the SFO decided to drop the case against Nisar Afzal after failing to find enough evidence to establish criminality.
Nisar Afzal’s brother, Saghir Afzal, and banking expert Ian McGarry were charged along with six lawyers who carried out the property transactions on their behalf, but at trial three were acquitted of the charges against them and the jury found no was unable to reach a verdict with respect to the other. Three.
Throughout the 15 years, Nisar Afzal disputed the criminal case against him and pointed out that he had been the victim of abuse of power; has not committed any fraud or criminal act.
He said the SFO failed to properly investigate an individual called Abdul Ajram who he said was the one involved. It is understood that Nisar Afzal plans to launch a series of legal actions.