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SC directs authorities to produce 20 Pakistanis who own properties abroad

October 25, 2018

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Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar. — File
Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar. — File

The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the authorities to produce 20 people who hold properties abroad and had opted for the previous government's amnesty scheme, during the next hearing of the case.

Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar, who was heading a three-member bench, issued the orders while hearing a case pertaining to the foreign accounts held by Pakistanis. During today's hearing, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Chairman Jahanzaib Khan, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Director General Basheer Memon, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Governor Tariq Bajwa and the attorney general appeared before the court.

The FIA submitted in the court a report detailing foreign properties of Pakistani citizens. "You've stated that the foreign properties owned by Pakistanis are estimated at $100 billion," the CJP said while addressing the FIA chief. "A dam could be built in Pakistan with such a huge amount."

While briefing the bench on the report, Memon revealed that 894 Pakistanis have properties in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Out of these, 374 individuals have taken advantage of the government's amnesty scheme, 150 people have admitted that they have properties abroad, 69 people said they have shown their properties in their tax returns and 82 people denied having any property abroad.

According to the FIA director general, 150 people out of the total 894 own 203 properties, with each estimated to be worth a minimum of Rs50 million.

"When will you take action [against the suspects]?," the CJP asked Memon, who responded that the agency has restrained itself for two months because of the government's amnesty scheme.

State Bank Governor Bajwa informed the court that it is now "very difficult" to launder money of the country.

When asked by the CJP why the government was not taking action against the identified suspects, the attorney general stated that the government could not arrest these people under the law.

The FIA chief informed the court that the agency has details of foreign properties of several people, but possesses no details of their bank accounts and neither do their banks fall in the jurisdiction of local laws.

At this, the bench ordered that 20 people who own properties abroad be produced in the court at the next hearing, scheduled for November 1.