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Pakistani authorities try to trace Moonis’ assets in UK, attempt bears no fruit

PML-Q leader Chaudhry Moonis Elahi. — The News/Files

LONDON: The Pakistani authorities attempted to trace whether their key coalition allies, mainly former Punjab chief minister Pervaiz Elahi’s son Moonis Elahi, owns any assets in the United Kingdom and the British Virgin Islands (BVI) or not. 

Trusted sources have shared with that Pakistani government authorities made extensive inquiries to find details of assets, if any, owned directly or indirectly by Moonis, Pervaiz Elahi, Chaudhary Shujaat, or any of their family members.

It’s understood that at least two requests were sent to the British government by the Pakistani authorities, seeking to assist them in the pursuit of the alleged assets but so far, the search has yielded no positive results.

The federal government sent the first request to the UK government’s Home Office around two years ago after the PTI and the Pakistan Muslim League (Q) entered into a coalition government in Punjab and the centre.

That request was on behalf of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and another investigating agency. A similar letter was also sent to the British Virgin Islands, seeking to trace Moonis’ alleged assets. Both the Home Office and the BVI informed Pakistani officials that they were unable to trace the assets.

Sources have told that a new request — not by NAB — was launched in recent months to find out if Moonis, his father, his uncle Chaudhary Shujaat, and other family members own any assets in the UK.

The pursuit is based on suspicions that Moonis owns assets in the UK and possibly elsewhere too. So far, nothing has been identified in the UK in Moonis’ name or the two senior Chaudhrys.

The ICIJ had written in April 2013 that Moonis was a shareholder of a British Virgin Islands offshore company called Olive Grove Assets Ltd, set up with the help of the Swiss bank, UBS.

The ICIJ claimed that Pervez Elahi’s son created the offshore structure in 2006 in the British Virgin Islands but until now, no asset has ever been linked with the said offshore company.

When contacted for his version, Moonis said that he was not aware of the request.

“All of my assets and investments have been duly declared in my tax returns. Yes, we are their coalition partners. If this is happening, I am not surprised. After a failed attempt to marginalize and persecute the opposition they have decided to target their allies,” he said.

In early 2018, Moonis appeared before NAB to answer questions about his name in the Panama papers. Moonis has maintained that all his asset details have been declared to authorities in Pakistan.

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