FBR to charge Zardari under benami transactions law


ISLAMABAD: The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has decided to charge former president and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari under the Benami transactions law, Pakistan Today has learnt.

According to a notice issued to the former president, the tax department has asked him to explain the source of Rs37.16 million which were used to pay taxes and customs duties of certain luxury vehicles. These vehicles were gifted either to Zardari by foreign states or were shipped or imported from Dubai under different names, the notice stated.

During the analysis of transactions made through account no 1-2-1-20620-714-135339 maintained at Summit Bank Uni Tower I.I Chandigarh Road Karachi of M/s Lucky International, it was revealed that three pay orders bearing No 118020, 118021, and 118019 dated May 30, 2014, amounting to Rs37.16 million, were issued from the said account in the name of collector of customs, Islamabad, the notice added. Examination of records further revealed that customs duties/taxes of three bulletproof vehicles were paid through pay orders. The BMW 760 bulletproof (Chassis No WBAHP81080) imported under the name of Embassy of Libya, BMW 760 bulletproof (Chassis No WBAGP81080) and Lexus 570 bulletproof (Chassis No JTIHT00W3) were imported under the name of Embassy of UAE on July 30, 2009 and the registration was in Zardari’s name, the notice further stated.

The Supreme Court (SC), in its May 9, 2018, judgment, had directed the joint investigation team (JIT) formed in the case to identify the beneficial owner of the amounts appearing in the fake accounts in this case. According to the notice, Zardari is found to be the beneficial owner of amount Rs37 million originating from the fake account of M/s Lucky International as it was used to his benefit.

The former president had not declared the receipts from M/s Lucky International amounting to Rs37.16 million in the income tax return of 2014. It is pertinent to mention here that Asif Ali Zardari in wealth statement for the tax year 2014 had declared taxable income at Rs74.86 million and net assets at Rs961 million.

The tax department has asked Zardari to explain as to why the above sums may not be added to his income chargeable to tax under the head ‘income from other sources’ under clause (c) of subsection (1) if section 111 of the income tax ordinance 2001.

The JIT had also summoned the owner of M/s Lucky International but the owner, a dealer of the computer in Clifton, disowned this account and subsequently, the JIT forwarded the information to tax department for further probe.

It is worth mentioning here that tax department had enforced the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Rules, 2019 last week and had given instructions to BTB zones of Inland Revenue Service to establish cases against Benami properties and submit challan to Adjudication Authority within 120 working days.

Under the rule, the sale, purchase and transfer of property would be banned and the party can lodge an appeal with the federal tribunal and after the decision of the federal tribunal such properties will be confiscated and sold out by the federal government. Furthermore, if the crime of benami transactions is proved, criminal proceedings will be initiated against accused persons and where proven guilty, rigorous imprisonment of one to seven years can be awarded to such persons. Similarly, persons providing false and baseless information can also be sentenced to rigorous imprisonment of six months to five years.

Pakistan Today tried to contact the PPP leadership but they were unavailable for comment.