Pakistanis own assets worth $150bn in UAE, SC informed

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan was informed that Pakistani nationals own up to $150 billion in assets and money in bank accounts in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The revelation was made during hearing of a suo motu case by the Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Saqib Nisar with regard assets owned by Pakistani nationals in foreign countries.
During the hearing, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Governor Tariq Bajwa informed the court that London authorities had provided information about properties of 225 individuals to the Federal Board of Revenue.
Judicial Assistant Shabbar Zaidi said the Federal Board of Revenue had issued notices to 300 individuals for owning properties abroad, adding that most of the money had been transferred abroad through hawala.
The chief justice expressed his dissatisfaction over the lack of progress in bringing back money from abroad. He said that properties and money owned by countrymen was lying abroad despite an amnesty scheme announced by the government.
“We will request Dubai authorities to take up legal proceedings against those who have not declared their foreign properties under the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 2017,” the SBP governor replied.
Bajwa said those who declared their assets, they would ask such individuals about their means.
Meanwhile, public accounting firm AG Ferguson submitted its report in the court stating that Pakistani nationals owned $150 billion in assets and money in bank accounts in the UAE.
DG Ferguson chief Shabbar Zaidi said they will have to be careful pertaining to information provided by the UAE authorities.
Justice Umar Ata Bandiyal said that properties worth around $8 billion had been declared under the amnesty scheme, but hawala practice could not be put to an end even at that time.
The chief justice said the individuals who have not declared their assets should be booked for money laundering.
Furthermore, the attorney general apprised the court that acting on court orders, a notification had been issued on August 28 and a task force was formed which included officials from the Federal Investigation Agency, National Accountability Bureau, Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, and the Ministry of Finance.
“The government wants to pass a legislation to bring back money from abroad and it wants to monitor the matters of public interest under the court’s monitoring. The court must consider that Prime Minister Imran Khan will be briefed regarding hundi and hawala today before announcing a verdict,” the attorney general said.
The Supreme Court then issued instructions to present a list of those served notices in a sealed envelope. “If these names are disclosed, the FBR and SC registrar will be responsible,” the bench noted.
The hearing was then adjourned till September 5.