A UK court of appeal has upheld a Home Office decision to cancel the 10-year multiple-entry visit visas of Bahria Town founder Malik Riaz and his son, Ahmed Ali Riaz, on the grounds that their “exclusion from the UK is conducive to the public good”.
DAWN reported, “The Home Office decision to cancel their visas was taken after the top immigration body considered the National Crime Agency’s (NCA) investigation and settlement of £190 million with Mr Riaz in 2019; Supreme Court judgements concerning Bahria Town in May 2018 and March 2019; a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) report probing money deposited by Bahria Town into fake accounts and a National Accountability Bureau (NAB) reference filed in April 2019 linking Bahria Town to an investigation into Karachi Land Developments.”
While rejecting the appeal, the UK court judgement notes that the conclusion of the Home Office that Mr Riaz and his son have been involved with corruption and financial/commercial misconduct was founded on their involvement in the affairs of Bahria Town — a company owned and run by the appellants’ family and described as the largest property developer in Asia.
Both the court and Home Office heavily relied on SC judgements and orders, NAB inquiries and the JIT report linked to Bahria Town.
Malik Riaz and his son had held 10-year visit visas to the UK valid till July 28, 2021 and May 18, 2021, respectively. The Home Office cancelled the visas on December 10, 2019, a week after the NCA announced its probe and settlement with the Bahria Town founder.
In attempt to resolve a dispute before court proceedings are initiated, Mr Riaz’s lawyers filed a pre-action protocol (PAP) letter to the Home Office, which took a fresh cancellation decision against their visas on January 31, 2020.
Subsequently, they filed a judicial review application to the Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber). A judicial review is a type of court proceeding in which a judge reviews the lawfulness of a decision made by a public body, in this case, the Home Office. On November 17, 2020, the tribunal dismissed Mr Riaz’s claim for a judicial review, and found no wrongdoing in how the Home Office made its decision about the visas’ cancellation.
Malik Riaz and his son then mounted an appeal on seven grounds in the Royal Courts of Justice that upheld the tribunal’s decision on the judicial review.
A detailed judgement outlining the grounds of appeal, the evidence considered by the Home Office as well as the decision taken to cancel the visas was published by the court on November 26.
Who is Malik Riaz?
Malik Riaz Hussain is a Pakistani business tycoon who is the founder of Bahria Town, the largest privately held real estate development company in Pakistan and in Asia.
Riaz started his career as a clerk with a construction company(MES) in Rawalpindi. In the 1980s, Riaz moved to become a contractor, and in 1995 Riaz’s construction company Hussain Global, signed an agreement with Pakistan Navy’s charitable trust known as Bahria Foundation to develop a gated community for Pakistan Navy.
The Navy’s Bahria Foundation served a legal notice to Riaz to stop using the word “Bahria” for his company’s construction projects, but Riaz went on to develop Bahria Town Rawalpindi offering gifts of bungalows, and mansions to politically connected people.
He expanded his real-estate company and developed gated communities in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad during the 2000s, developing a combined area of 45,000 square acres.
As of 2016, Bahria had 60,000 employees, making it one of the largest private sector employers in Pakistan. Riaz is a controversial figure and has been subject of several corruption investigations. Bahria Town Karachi is the biggest private project of Asia, which is also owned by Malik Riaz.