DFID discards Daily Mail story alleging Sharifs laundered quake victims’ aid money

The Department for International Development (DFID) on Sunday discarded a report published by the Mail on Sunday in which it was alleged the Sharif family had laundered quake victims’ aid money and had embezzled tens of millions of pounds of public money to Britain.

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The paper in its report had suggested that Opposition Leader in the National Assembly and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif and his family stole British taxpayers’ money given to Pakistan’s Earthquake Relief and Reconstruction Authority (ERRA) constituted to help the victims of the 2005 Pakistan earthquake.

“The UK’s financial support to ERRA over this period was for payment by results – which means we only gave money once the agreed work, which was primarily focused on building schools, was completed, and the work audited and verified,” DFID said in its statement.

The statement read, “the UK taxpayer got exactly what it paid for and helped the vulnerable victims of a devastating earthquake. We are confident our robust systems protected UK taxpayers from fraud.”

DFID asserted that Mail on Sunday provided little substantial evidence, adding, “the report says investigators in Pakistan “are convinced that some of the allegedly stolen money came from DFID-funded aid projects” without providing any substantial evidence this was the case with the earthquake fund.”

The piece goes on to quote Shahzad Akbar, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Asset Recovery Unit chief, saying it “appears” some money “may” have been stolen from aid and development projects, again without offering any substantial evidence this was the case with ERRA, the statement further added.

DFID claimed to have given The Mail on Sunday some background on its work in Pakistan.

DFID, while noting that UK has supported over 8 million Pakistani people following natural disasters and conflicts since 2011, added, “we told the paper how DFID’s work is lifting millions of the poorest people out of poverty whilst improving stability and security in both the UK and Pakistan, which ultimately benefits the UK as well. Over 10 million children in primary schools – including 4.7 million girls – have benefited from UK education programmes since 2011. Over 5.8 million children in secondary schools, including 2.7 million girls, have also benefited from our work.”

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Shehbaz Sharif, in a tweet on Sunday, announced to “file lawsuit against Daily Mail,” adding, “The fabricated and misleading story was published at the behest of Imran Khan and Shahzad Akbar. We will also launch legal proceedings against them.”

“Btw IK has yet to respond to three such cases I filed against him for defamation,” Shehbaz added.

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