Friday, 13 December, 2019
CJP berates FBR for 'sluggish' investigation in foreign properties case

CJP berates FBR for 'sluggish' investigation in foreign properties case

Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar on Monday assailed an audit member of the Federal Bureau of Revenue (FBR) for the body's "sluggish" investigation in the case against 44 politically exposed individuals or their benamidars who own properties abroad.

At the outset of the case today, the FBR representative told the court that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had provided data of 895 people and 1,365 properties. About 360 people took advantage of tax amnesty scheme to protect 484 properties, he added.

The FBR audit member further said that Rs340 million have so far been recovered, while the recovery of another Rs768m is expected.

The progress of the case did not impress the chief justice. "You have all the data; you should have taken action within hours," he said, adding that the matter would never have been taken up if the court had not taken notice.

The FBR member apprised the court that 157 people have still not come forward and that the FBR has written to the Dubai authority for their data.

Meanwhile, a report submitted in the court by the FIA claimed that 1,211 Pakistani citizens own 2,154 properties in the UAE. A further 345 people have been served notices, the report said.

The report also said that 61 people remain unidentified, five are deceased, 10 are uncooperative while one is absconding.

Furthermore, the FIA report said that 413 people took advantage of the tax amnesty scheme that ended in August last year, whereas 167 people declared their properties to the FBR inquiry officer.

It stated that 79 people declared their properties in tax returns filed for the FBR, while 97 people disowned their properties in the UAE. Previously, the FIA had identified 1,115 people who owned properties in the UAE.

Prime Minister Imran Khan's sister Aleema Khanum, who is named as one of the benamidars of a property in the United Arab Emirates, was also present in the court for today's hearing. The court had ordered Khanum to appear in person today.

Talking to the media after the hearing, Khanum regretted that people were poking fun at "the machines that employ hundreds and thousands of people".

"You can check [my] wealth statement, I have earned for myself after working for 20 years," she claimed.

In Dec 2018, the top court had ordered Khanum to pay Rs29.4 million in taxes and fine for concealing her property in Dubai.

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