Byline: Ikram Sehgal
The National Crime Agency leads the UK's fight to cut serious and organised crime, protecting the public by targeting and pursuing those criminals who pose the greatest risk to the UK. Founded in 2013 with its Headquarters in London, the NCA is fighting crime; human, weapon and drug trafficking; cybercrime; and economic crime, this includes tax evasion and money-laundering. Cutting across regional and international borders, it can be tasked to investigate any crime. It works under the authority of UK Home Office Secretary Priti Patel, and is headed currently by a senior police officer Lynne Owens has been Director General Lynne Owens of the NCA since 2016.
The purview of the NCA also covers crimes related to border vulnerabilities, cybercrime, illegal firearms, fraud, illicit financing, modern slavery and human trafficking, kidnap and extortion, child abuse, bribery, corruption and sanctions evasion. The budget of the agency in 2015-2016 amounted to UK APS448 million. The APS190 million settlement reached by the NCA with Malik Riaz Hussain is the result of its investigation into the dealings of one of the biggest private sector employers in Pakistan. In August 2019 eight account freezing orders were secured at Westminster Magistrates' Court in connection with funds totalling around APS120 million. These followed an earlier freezing order in December 2018 linked to the same investigation for APS20 million. All of the account freezing orders relate to money held in UK bank accounts. The NCA has accepted a settlement offer amounting to APS190 million which includes a UK property, 1 Hyde Park Place, London, W2 2LH, valued at approximately APS50 million and all of the funds in the frozen accounts.
This address has been a magnet for Pakistanis having illegal wealth to show off as a symbol status of their blatant corruption. The NCA announced that the assets are being returned to the State of Pakistan, hopefully this drop in the ocean will become a stream and then a flood of illegal money-laundered abroad will come back to the country. This is a tremendous breakthrough in the efforts to repatriate illegal assets of Pakistanis in foreign countries. Efforts under Gen Musharraf to repatriate money remained mostly unsuccessful and the impression was created that this money was lost forever for the Pakistani state. This new option seems to be due to the changes introduced by UK into the Criminal Finances Act 2017 and are in tune...