The 12 boxes with evidence of Swiss money laundering cases involving President Asif Zardari have been ‘quietly’ moved from the high commission building to the residence of the Pakistani high commissioner and allegedly opened, inspected and tampered with despite repeated assurances to the contrary by the high commission.
The boxes had earlier been removed from Geneva in December last year in a clandestine operation which was exposed on tape in Geo News exclusive. The same were then stored at the Pakistan high commission here in Lowndes Square but The News has learnt the boxes have secretly been shifted to the official sprawling Tony Hampstead residence of Pakistan High Commissioner Wajid Shamsul Hasan.
When contacted on Wednesday, a furious high commissioner refused to speak to The News and curtly asked this correspondent to approach NAB for any query related to the Swiss evidence. The News had asked him specifically about the current location of the Swiss cartons but the high commissioner refused to give any categorical answer and instead stated rather evasively, “They are in the custody of the Pakistan High Commission, whatever it means to you.”
He refused to speak further, saying if misquoted he will “get into trouble”. A senior high commission official, speaking on condition of anonymity, however did not deny the evidence was now stored at the high commissioner’s residence, and not at the high commission of Pakistan building anymore.
It is not clear when exactly the boxes were shifted to the high commissioner’s residence from the high commission building but it is evident they were shifted before President Asif Zardari’s recent three-day private visit to the UK.
What is of serious concern is that the record has allegedly been tampered with an unhindered elaborate manner and sources say pages containing incriminating proofs have either been removed or replaced. Whether doing that makes sense is not clear as apparently the court seized with the cases is expected to possess copies of the entire old record.
With the vital record allegedly tampered with, questions are being asked as to why has it taken NAB such a long time to order transfer of this crucial evidence to Pakistan. Questions are also being asked about the timing of President Zardari’s visit to the UK and shifting of the evidence to Hasan’s official residence well ahead of the president’s arrival.
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According to highly informed sources, the operation of shifting documents from the high commission to the Hampstead residence was presided over by Wajid Shamsul Hasan with the help of at least two well-trusted PPP diehard supporters.
Wajid Shamsul Hasan has strongly maintained the evidence boxes are “government of Pakistan’s archival property” and he was only acting as a custodian in his role and he did not have anything more to do with the bags. He officially maintains he is keeping the evidence in his custody awaiting orders from NAB authorities but the latest disclosure flies in the face of all these claims.
“The media is handling this matter in a wrong way. The high commission of Pakistan in London has no authority to send the evidence boxes to Pakistan unless the relevant agency asks for it. They may be sent back to us if we act on our own as it incurs a lot of cost in such matters,” the official said.
The official added: “As far as I know, there is no instruction from NAB until now. So, what is Wajid Shamsul Hasan supposed to do? He is a man of integrity and honesty. He stands head and shoulder above the rest and he is fully dedicated to Pakistan and its cause.”
The proof of the Swiss cases, stuffed in 12 cartons had been taken over by Wajid Shamsul Hasan and the sacked National Accountability Bureau prosecutor-general Danishwar Malik but they were caught unaware and filmed by Geo TV right outside Geneva offices of the Pakistan government’s lawyers.
Meanwhile, the cartons could be seen being loaded into a parked station wagon. The ensuing revelations led to an open war of words between the high commission in London and NAB officials who distanced themselves from the versions of Hasan and Malik that they were acting in unison on behalf of the government of Pakistan.
NAB had claimed while Dr Malik had been authorised to go to Swiss lawyers to retrieve the boxes of evidence, Mr Wajid Shamsul Hasan had acted on his own to serve interests of the PPP government, fearing reopening of corruption cases against President Zardari in Switzerland.
APP adds: High Commissioner Wajid Shamsul Hasan has described the story as a “figment of wild imaginations” that President Zardari visited his residence to look at boxes containing papers relating to the Swiss cases. (By Murtaza Ali Shah, The News International)