KARACHI: The London Metropolitan Police on Monday informed Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain that his bail conditions, in an ongoing money laundering probe, had been removed as there was insufficient evidence to bring a criminal charge against him.
Altaf Hussain’s police bail was extended for a fifth time on Oct 5, 2015, since his June 3, 2014, arrest in London and, according to an MQM statement issued on Monday, he was due to “return to a South London police station on Tuesday as part of an ongoing investigation into allegations of money laundering”.
But a few hours after the release of the above mentioned statement, the party issued another statement claiming that the Met police sent a “bail cancellation notice” to Altaf Hussain and the two senior London-based MQM leaders — Muhammad Anwar and Tariq Mir.
They party leaders were informed that “there is no need for any of you to attend the police station” and that “the bail conditions currently in place are therefore removed”, the MQM statement said.
The Met police notice, according to the MQM statement, stated that “at the time of writing there is insufficient evidence to bring a criminal charge”.
An MQM source privy to the legality of the matter, told Dawn that the British investigators would continue to probe into the money-laundering allegations and the money seized during the raids on two MQM properties would not be returned immediately.
The source explained that the cancellation of police bail meant that there would be no restriction on Altaf Hussain’s international travel and he would not be bound to appear before investigators until they got any fresh evidence.
MQM leader Wasay Jalil, who is currently in London, confirmed to Dawn that Altaf Hussain’s passport would be returned to him. About the seized amount, he said: “Our lawyers will update us in a day or two regarding the seized cash.”
Celebrations at Nine Zero
In Karachi, the news sparked widespread celebrations at the MQM’s Nine Zero headquarters, where scores of workers and supporters gathered and danced to the tunes of party songs.
“We were prepared for the worst,” said a senior MQM leader, referring to a possibility that the investigators could have charged Hussain in his Tuesday’s appearance. “But it was a collective decision that we would not seek an extension in bail and contest all charges, if filed, legally.”
Social media was also abuzz with the news and hashtag #AltafWinsAgain became top Twitter trend in the country by the evening.
Earlier, a Dawn Newspaper report had quoted an MQM official as saying that the party was fully prepared for any eventuality and ready to contest all charges, if filed, in UK courts.
“We want them [British authorities] to conclude their investigation as soon as possible.”
The money laundering investigation was launched after the Metropolitan Police discovered hundreds of thousands of pounds during two raids — one on an MQM office and another on Altaf Hussain’s residence in London. The raids were conducted in connection with the investigation into Dr Imran Farooq’s murder.