Tycoon hands £190m to UK crime squad
Settlement includes £50m home in London
A PROPERTY tycoon has been forced to hand over the keys to his £50m London mansion as part of an extraordinary £190m settlement with organised crime investigators.
Malik Riaz Hussain (pictured) and his family have been ordered by the National Crime Agency (NCA) to relinquish the vast sum in cash and assets amid allegations they are the proceeds of crime.
The Hussain family’s crown jewel in the capital is One Hyde Park Place (pictured) – a £50m, 16,000 sq ft, Grade II listed mansion overlooking central London’s famous park.
No details were given by the NCA of the accusations against Hussain, who has been fighting court action over business deals in Pakistan. But the assets were seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act, which was used against the 22-year old niece of Syrian ruler Bashar al-Assad earlier this year.
In August, orders freezing eight accounts were secured against Hussain at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in connection with funds totalling around £120m. These followed a freezing order in December last year linked to the same investigation, for £20m.
The NCA said all the assets would be returned to Pakistan, where prime minister and former cricketer Imran Khan is spearheading an anti-corruption probe to recoup billions of dollars that his government says opposition politicians have stashed abroad.
Hussain, 65, is one of the most powerful – and richest – businessmen in Pakistan.
He rose from humble beginnings in the Punjab region to found Bahria Town, which eventually became Asia’s largest privately held property developer. A new gated development outside Islamabad features a replica of the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty and a golf course.
On Twitter, Hussain lashed out at his critics and fiercely denied any wrongdoing.
He said: ‘Some habituals are twisting the NCA report 180 degrees to throw mud at me. I sold our legal & declared property in UK to pay £190m to Supreme Court Pakistan against Bahria Town Karachi.’
The tycoon said that the settlement with the NCA is a ‘civil matter and does not represent a finding of guilt’. He added: ‘I am a proud Pakistani and I will remain until I breathe my last.’
The lavish London home was previously owned by Hasan Nawaz Sharif, the 43year-old son of Nawaz Sharif, the 69-year-old former Pakistan prime minister who was jailed for corruption last year. It was sold in 2016 for £42.5m.
Sharif and his family have been battling allegations of money laundering and corruption involving the purchase of homes in London, including separate luxury flats overlooking Hyde Park which were knocked together to create a mansion. This served as the home for the Sharif family when they were in London. Prosecutors believe the money used by Nawaz Sharif to bankroll the flats was acquired dishonestly during his three terms as prime minister.