Pakistan’s anti-corruption body to probe Pakistanis’ $8 billion Dubai investment

Former finance minister Ishaq Dar had talked about $200 billion wealth of Pakistanis stashed in Switzerland.

In a major development, Pakistan National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Finance Friday unanimously decided to send the case of illegal investments of over $8 billion by Pakistanis in the Dubai realty sector to the National Accountability Bureau for investigation.

Considered a significant move, the decision was taken unanimously by members from all political parties to hand over the case to the anti-graft and anti-corruption body, which is the only institution that can deal with Dubai authorities under a legal framework.

All the investment made in the Dubai’s real estate are illegal, as the State Bank of Pakistan has already informed the committee that the central bank never gave the permission to any individual to invest in the real estate sector anywhere in the world.

A sub-committee has been set up to look into the modus operandi of sending abroad $8 billion; whether that money can be brought back and how future overseas investments by individuals can be stopped.

The volume of the illegal investment is expected to jump further, as the list balloons further.

The money laundering and terrorism financing remain a serious issue, as the wealth generated through illegal means or by evading taxes is either invested in the real estate in Pakistan or channeled to other destinations like Dubai, UK and Switzerland.

Former finance minister Ishaq Dar had talked about $200 billion wealth of Pakistanis stashed in Switzerland.

The Chairman NAB recently said, “Corruption was spreading in the country like cancer”, adding that various plunderers have looted the country to the maximum. “Country owed a whopping $84 billion. Nobody is ready to give details of the amount spent on inquiring about the details of spending the foreign debt, the responsible start clamoring that it’s a conspiracy which is being hatched against them. NAB has no link with any political party. NAB does not believe in discrimination. Zero tolerance and self-accountability is the most important component of NAB’s policy.”

According to local daily paper The Express Tribune, during Friday’s proceedings of the parliamentary committee, fresh revelations were also made about the dubious role of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) in the Dubai real estate investigation case.

The FBR was in possession of a list of thousands of Pakistanis since 2015 who have investment stakes in Dubai, the report said quoting sources.

But during the meetings of the subcommittee, both the FBR and the Federal Investigation Agency denied that they knew about the Pakistanis who invested abroad.

“During our committee’s proceedings, the FBR kept lying and gave misstatement that it did not have any information about the people who invested abroad,” said lawmaker Asad Umar of the PTI who has given major input in the matter.

“According to my information, the report about 3,000 Pakistanis, who invested in Dubai, was in the possession of FBR Chairman Tariq Pasha and former finance minister Ishaq Dar,” said Umar.

A senior journalist from a private news channel claimed that he obtained a list from sources in the FBR that carried the names of more than 5,000 Pakistanis who owned properties in Dubai.

The FBR (Member) Inland Revenue Policy Dr Mohammad Iqbal claimed before the standing committee that he did not have knowledge of the existence of any such list.

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