Banks to collect details of benami accounts themselves: Shabbar Zaidi

Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Chairman Shabbar Zaidi asked all banks in the country to collect details of ‘benami’ accounts of their bank account holders themselves, instead of the FBR doing so.

According to a statement issued by the FBR, Zaidi wrote a letter to the heads of the banks and asked them to collect the details under the Benami Transaction (Prohibition) Act 2017.

The board, as per the statement, does not want to contact account holders directly “so that people’s trust in FBR can be maintained”.

According to the FBR, information provided in the benami accounts will be kept confidential.

“Under the Benami Transaction (Prohibition) Act 2017, [the] FBR is responsible for identifying benami accounts,” the statement read, adding: “If FBR and banks work together, better results can be achieved.”

The board noted the importance of the cooperation of banks and requested that they submit all information related to benami accounts to the FBR within 15 days.

Earlier this month, the FBR had initiated proceedings against citizens who failed to declare their benami properties under the Assets Declarations Scheme, which expired on July 3.

In March, FBR officials said that the act had been implemented to stop transactions being conducted through benami accounts, the numbers of which run into hundreds of thousands.

The term benami refers to the practice of holding property/assets in the name of one person for the benefit of another. However, benami is often aimed at concealing ownership of assets acquired through illegal means, defrauding creditors, and/or evading payments of government fees, charges or taxes.