UK Company Threatens to Seize Pakistan Cricket Team's Assets Over Dispute With State

Broadsheet LLC says that the state of Pakistan and National Accountability Bureau have failed to pay more than $33 million that an arbitration court said they owed.

Former West Indies cricketer Michael Holding says that the Pakistani cricket team will be safer from coronavirus in England rather than in their own country. However, the Pakistani team is facing a threat of a different kind from Broadsheet LLC, a company based in Isle Man, which has threatened to seize the team’s assets over its dispute with Pakistan.

The company has won an arbitration case against the state of Pakistan and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), and already sought court orders instructing professional bailiffs “to seize the assets of the Pakistani cricket team”. Their action will commence in two days.

In a letter sent to Pakistan’s counsel, Allen & Overy, the company says that the state of Pakistan and NAB have failed to pay the award money it owes, more than $33 million. On top of that, they have also refused to engage in any correspondence for months.

“The Pakistan cricket team is currently in the UK preparing for a Test series against England,” Broadsheet LLC says in the letter. “We consider that the team is, by the very nature, an asset of the defendant and that monies due to the team and assets of the team are assets of the defendant to the litigation.” The other assets the company has been considering to seize included the Pakistan High Commission building and high commissioner’s house in London as well as the Roosevelt Hotel in New York.

Pakistan had hired Broadsheet in 2000 – a year after General Pervez Musharraf took over in a military coup and established the NAB to investigate corruption allegations against public officials, including the Nawaz Sharif family . Musharraf’s government entered into an agreement with the company, with the task to help track down the assets of Sharif and more than 200 other politicians, generals and officials in the US and UK at its own expense – in return for 20% of any sums recovered from the designated targets.

It is not clear whether the company helped Pakistan in recovering the ill-gotten wealth; instead, it got into a protracted legal battle with Pakistani authorities and in July last year was awarded a penalty of $21 million against Pakistan by the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA).

The company was established by Colorado businessman Jerry James and entered liquidation proceedings in the Isle of Man in 2005, before being dissolved and then revived.

Interestingly, the company had negotiated an agreement with the NAB in 2008 that purported to settle the dispute for $5 million, which NAB officials paid. However, later it turned out that the money was paid to some other company.

Broadsheet accused NAB of breaking terms of the contract and entering into agreements with the ‘targets’ without notifying it and therefore depriving it of the share as agreed. In August 2016, the international tribunal judge Sir Anthony Evans upheld Broadsheet’s arguments and ruled that Pakistan is liable to pay damages as NAB wrongfully repudiated an asset recovery agreement with Broadsheet and breached the contract.

This is the second arbitration case Pakistan has lost. In July 2019, an arbitration tribunal of the World Bank has ruled in favour of Tethyan Copper Company Pvt Ltd (TCC) in a case involving the Reko Diq gold mine project in Balochistan. As a result of the ruling, a penalty of $6 billion was against Pakistan for not awarding the project to TCC.

Asif Ullah Khan is a freelance journalist based in Jaipur and has worked in senior editorial positions at The Times of IndiaThe Hindustan Times, Khaleej Times and The Brunei Times.