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Pakistan team faced with legal threat of equipment being seized

Cricket team caught in crossfire of dispute between a private firm and the Pakistan government

Faheem Ashraf loosens his shoulder at training on match eve, India v Pakistan, Champions Trophy, Group B, Birmingham, June 3, 2017

Will the Pakistan players' training equipment be seized due to a legal tangle?  •  AFP

The PCB has played down reports that a company based in the Isle of Man may seize assets owned by the Pakistan team currently in the UK, as part of an old legal dispute between the firm and the Pakistan government. A report in the Pakistani daily the News quoted a letter from Broadsheet LLC to the Pakistan government in which it said it would "seize the assets of the Pakistani cricket team" because of longstanding dues owed to it by the government.
The PCB has been in touch with the Pakistan Embassy in the UK and is believed to have been satisfied that there is little prospect of this actually happening. That belief lies in the legal opinion that the Pakistan team is representative of the Pakistan Cricket Board, an autonomous body, and not of the Pakistan state or government, and so is not a party to the case or liable for the damages. In the letter, Broadsheet says that the Pakistan 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 PCB, however, said the ordinance under which it was established makes it clear it is autonomous.
"The PCB has no nexus whatsoever with the arbitration and/or recovery proceedings between Broadsheet LLC and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan & National Accountability Bureau of Pakistan," the PCB said.
"Moreover, the PCB stands established under the Sports (Development and Control) Ordinance 1962 as a body corporate having perpetual succession with exclusive authority for the regulation, administration, management and promotion of the game of cricket in Pakistan. The PCB operates through its Constitution as an autonomous entity.
"The PCB operates and functions independently from the Government, generates its own revenues and receives no grants, funds or monies from either the Federal or Provincial Governments, or the Public Exchequer."
The legal dispute dates back to the early 2000s, when Broadsheet was hired by General Pervez Musharraf, who was the head of state of Pakistan then, to trace out hidden assets of Pakistan nationals in foreign countries. Pakistan's National Accountability Bureau (NAB) signed an agreement with Broadsheet, which was eventually terminated in 2003. The termination led to a legal dispute, one resolved in 2018, when an international arbitration court in London ruled in favour of Broadsheet, and established that the NAB was liable to pay damages. It is this payment that remains outstanding.
The letter quoted in the News was written by Broadsheet to Allen & Overy, the firm that represented the Pakistan government and the NAB in the case, and said that Broadsheet was owed "more than USD 33 million" after it won the arbitration.
ESPNcricinfo reached out to NAB for comment, but the body has not confirmed or denied any threat to the cricket team's equipment being seized. The Pakistan team will play three Tests and three T20Is against England, with the first Test scheduled to start on August 5 in Manchester. The final T20I will take place on September 1.

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent