The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) decided to end the high profile 15-year-long pursuit of British Pakistani businessman Nisar Afzal after concluding that the investigation involving £50 million mortgage fraud no longer met the test of prosecution as defined in the Code for Crown Prosecutors because there was not enough evidence against Nisar Afzal to prosecute him. The SFO has that as per terms of the Code for Crown Prosecutors, either there must be sufficient evidence to convict in court or it is in the public interest to prosecute. In the case of Nasir Afzal, it is believed that the decision was taken to drop the investigation and withdraw the arrest warrants of Nisar Afzal was taken over both the test of not having sufficient evidence for a successful conviction or being in the public interest to prosecute an accused. The SFO confirmed that it withdrew the arrest warrant for Nisar Afzal and closed the investigation “on the basis of the Test in the Code for Crown Prosecutors” and not on the “evidential grounds”. Soirces in SFO have said that there was not enough and credible evidence against Nisar Afzal who has been in Pakistan for 15 years and has alleged that he has been a victim and that SFO failed to investigate the real people involved in mortage fraud. Saghir Afzal, who has been in jail for nearly a decade now, has said that he pleaded guilty under duress but the SFO said “the UK legal system has robust safeguards to ensure an individual is not placed under duress. Defendants are free to enter a plea on the basis of an informed decision with legal counsel, and with a judge overseeing the judicial process”. Lawyers of Saghir Afzal have said that he was put under extreme pressure and trauma after his brother was kidnapped in Pakistan and then he was made to plead guilty through unusual situations. This also includes failure of the SFO to investigate Abdul Arjam who is believed to have played a big role in the case. Lawyers of the defendants have accused the SFO of overlooking key facts and not following the lines of enquiries that they should have. In a major development in the biggest ever mortgage fraud probe of nearly £50 million, the Serious Fraud Office dropped proceeds of crime investigation into the well-known British Pakistani businessman Nisar Ahmed Afzal after 15 years of investigation. The Birmingham Mortgage Fraud case became one of the biggest cases of its nature in UK history and Nisar Afzal left for Pakistan in 2006 at the start of the investigation, alleging that he was wrongly framed in the case in a high profile conspiracy and that he will not get justice in the given circumstances. The SFO has confirmed that the Restraint Orders, first secured on 24 July 2006, against Nisar Ahmed Afzal have been discharged and “there are no proceedings by the SFO” against him anymore and the arrest warrant, secured at the Westminster Magistrates’ Court against Nisar Afzal on 29 October 2010, has been withdrawn by Director of the SFO under the Criminal Justice Act 1987. The Southwark Crown Court ordered the release of Restraining Orders and discharging of the arrest warrant after the SFO made an application to the court saying that it will not pursue the criminal case against Nisar Afzal anymore and planned to close the file. Nisar Afzal was never charged and he stressed his innocence from Pakistan through his UK lawyers. The £50m Birmingham mortgage fraud, according to SFO, took place between 2004 and 2006. The Westminster Magistrates’ Court ordered the forfeiture of all the funds held in Afzal’s frozen bank account at the start of the investigation – the funds which have been released now. Nisar Afzal was never charged for the allegations for which his brother was convicted but the SFO wanted Nisar Afzal to return to the UK to face trial. However, Nisar Afzal stressed that he would return to the UK if the SFO confirmed in writing that it had completed its investigations in the UK and Pakistan, covering every aspect of the case with full verifications. Nisar Afzal’s lawyers argued that it was deeply unfair and unjust that the matter was not being investigated and that the defence, which was capable of exonerating Nisar Afzal, was not being obtained as that would help a fair trial and help uphold the rule of law. The lawyers argued that the actions taken by the SFO were “abuse of process” as Nisar Afzal was prepared to be prosecuted but only once the full evidence had been gathered. Nisar Afzal’s brother Saghir Afzal was jailed for 10 years in 2011 around the time Nisar Afzal was kidnapped in Pakistan and Saghir’s lawyers told the court of Appeal that Saghir was never involved in any criminal act but pleaded guilty under extreme duress. Afzal was sentenced to an additional 10 years for failing to pay a near 30-million-pound confiscation order within six months. His lawyers said that vital evidence should have been first gathered in Pakistan which the SFO didn’t obtain and the court would look at the case if the full evidence was before it during the trial.