ISLAMABAD: Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) will approach tax authorities in Dubai to seek information about 100 Pakistanis who invested at least $ 8 billion in the United Arab Emirates through illegal means.
Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), which has prepared a list of 100 Pakistani investors in Dubai, will be sharing details with the FBR to facilitate the latter in taking up every individual case with the tax authorities in Dubai.
The two agencies, which come under fire for not moving forward with the investigation against the illegal investment of billions of dollars abroad, agreed to cooperate and share information about the investors.
During a meeting of National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Finance Sub-Committee, which was chaired by its convener Shezra Mansab Khan, representatives of the FIA said the agency had started an investigation into the investment in Dubai August 28, 2015, under Assets Declaration Law 1992. “We have a list of 100 Pakistanis who have invested in Dubai properties,” said FIA Director Zaheer Ahmed.
However, the agency was facing some legal issues which could better be defined by the ministry of law, he said. Meanwhile, FBR Member (Inland Revenue-Policy) Dr Muhammad Iqbal suggested the FIA share the details about Pakistani investors in Dubai with the FBR so the revenue board could take individual cases with Dubai’s tax authorities.
During the meeting which was to discuss the Dubai Leaks, parliamentarians and members of the committee lashed out at National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for its apparent sluggishness in pursuing the issue.
The FBR official further said that NAB sent a junior officer in the meeting who knew nothing about the issue. “It seems NAB has also been told to avoid moving forward on Dubai leaks,” he said, adding all members of the parliamentary committee and government machinery were showing a lack of seriousness in this regard, despite the fact that $ 8 billion of illegal investment abroad is almost equal to the current trade deficit.
According to the State Bank of Pakistan guidelines, an investment made abroad without prior permission is illegal. The FBR official termed the Rs $ 8 billion investment in Dubai as money laundering, adding that the money flew out from the country through Hawala/Hundi—an illegal method of sending money to other countries.
NAB International Cooperation Wing head Faheem Khan, in previous meeting of the committee, had disclosed that NAB has the right to seek information from foreign authorities in accordance with Section 21 of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999 or Anti-Money Laundering Act 2010. Subsequently, the committee asked NAB to ask for information from the UAE authorities about the individuals behind the investment. And in this regard, the NAB chairman will also write a letter to the UAE authorities and ask for their support.
Asad Umar lamented that why are we not using the international treaties signed by both Pakistan and Dubai to get the required information regarding illegal investment of Pakistanis?” Asad Umar said.
The committee ended the meeting at this note and decided to take up the issue in next meetings.