Pakistani tycoon agrees to hand over £190 million to settle UK probe

FILE PHOTO: Pakistani property developer Malik Riaz Hussain speaks with a Reuters correspondent during an interview at his office in Bahria Town on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan March 10, 2016. REUTERS/Caren Firouz

LONDON (Reuters) - The Pakistani real estate tycoon Malik Riaz Hussain has agreed to hand over 190 million pounds held in Britain to settle a British investigation into whether the money was from the proceeds of crime.

Hussain is one of Pakistan’s richest and most powerful businessmen and biggest private employers, and is known for upmarket gated housing communities. He has been caught up in corruption investigations but also supports charitable causes.

Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) said it had agreed a settlement in which Hussain would hand over a property, 1 Hyde Park Place, valued at 50 million pounds, and cash frozen in British bank accounts.

The NCA had previously secured nine freezing orders covering 140 million pounds in the accounts on the grounds that the money may have been acquired illegally.

The agency said the assets would be passed to the government of Pakistan and the settlement with Hussain was “a civil matter, and does not represent a finding of guilt”.

Hussain quoted this line in a tweet and also tweeted the NCA statement.

“Some habituals are twisting the NCA report 180 degrees to throw mud at me,” he added.

The settlement rekindles hopes for Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s anti-corruption drive, which has so far failed to bring back the billions of dollars that his government says opposition politicians have stashed abroad.

Reporting by Andrew MacAskill; Editing by Kevin Liffey