SC appoints two chartered accountants as amicus curiae in Pakistanis’ foreign bank accounts case
ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Saqib Nisar on Wednesday expressed dissatisfaction over the government’s efforts in curtailing the flow of capital from the country.
The three-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Ijazul Ahsan was hearing the suo motu notice case pertaining to laundered money in bank accounts of foreign countries.
During the hearing, the chief justice observed that the government could have enacted an ordinance to stem the flow of capital, saying that nothing is known so far of the Pakistanis named in the Panama and Paradise leaks.
He said that if the money was sent abroad without justification then it would be disastrous for the country, and added that the government should take steps to bring back the looted money from foreign countries within 15 days.
A senior Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) official informed the court that an amnesty scheme will be offered to encourage Pakistanis to declare their foreign assets.
The chief justice observed that the government could not get any benefits from the amnesty scheme due to flaws in the laws.
The finance secretary told the court that the government was pondering over change in the Finance Act to halt the people to send money abroad and the parliament would likely to take steps in that regard in a few days.
The court remarked that the court would hear the case daily after next hearing on March 20 which was scheduled at the Karachi registry.
Earlier, the Supreme Court also appointed two chartered accountants Syed Shabr Hassan Rizvi and Mahmood Mandviwala as amicus curiae (friend of court) in a case regarding bank accounts of Pakistanis abroad.
On February 1, the Supreme Court had taken suo motu notice of funds deposited in foreign bank accounts and foreign assets held by Pakistani citizens.
Chief Justice Nisar had remarked that many Pakistanis in positions of power hold accounts in foreign banks and have been looting the country’s money and transferring it abroad through illegal channels.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in November last year released a trove of around 13.4 million documents, revealing over 25,000 companies owned by the world’s ultra-rich and influential individuals, including those in Pakistan as well.
Former prime minister Shaukat Aziz was found linked with Antarctic Trust an offshore company exposed in Paradise papers leak. The trust was set up by him whose beneficiaries include his wife, children and granddaughter. Aziz had set up the trust in Delaware (USA) before becoming finance minister. Interestingly, the trust was neither declared during his stint as finance minister nor as prime minister.