ISLAMABAD: The name of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s sister Aleema Khanum — identified as the benamidar of a property in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) — surfaced in the Supreme Court on Friday during the hearing of a case pertaining to illegal transfer of money from Pakistan to other countries.
The SC asked the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to furnish complete details of her properties in a sealed envelope before it was informed by the Federal Investigation Agency that another 220 Pakistani owners of 656 properties in the UAE had been identified.
The details of Ms Aleema’s property were summoned by a three-judge SC bench, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, when the FBR member of income tax told the bench that the relevant record was available at its Lahore office only.
Another 220 Pakistanis holding properties in UAE identified
At previous hearings of the case about illegal transfer of money from Pakistan to other countries, the FIA had furnished a list of 44 politically exposed individuals or their benamidars, who possessed properties in the UAE. The list carried the name of Aleema Khanum. An FIA report submitted in the court said a notice had been issued to her through email as well as delivered at her residence where her servant said she was abroad.
On Friday when FBR chairman Jahanzaib Khan was asked about her status, he informed the court that the FIA would have to consider first whether she had taken the benefit of the amnesty scheme introduced earlier this year through the promulgation of Foreign Assets (Declaration and Repatriation) Ordinance 2018. If someone had declared their property by taking advantage of the amnesty scheme, then those were confidential, the chairman reasoned.
Mr Khan added that his department could provide entire details if the court passed an order to this effect.
Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan, however, observed that the confidentiality relating to the amnesty scheme and the details of properties were two different matters. An individual would apply to get benefit of the scheme only when they possessed some properties abroad, he said.
The chief justice asked why the FBR was reluctant and not coming forward with the details though it could be provided to the court in a sealed envelope. The court would examine whether the amnesty granted to Aleema Khanum was legal or not, he said.
In an affidavit, sources said, Aleema Khanum conceded that she owned The Lofts East 1406 — a property which was paid for from the funds generated from her business dealings overseas. The property was later disposed of and the FBR was also informed about its purchase and sale, said the affidavit that was deposited to the SC, according to the sources.
Later, the FIA told the court that another 220 Pakistani owners of 656 properties in the UAE had been identified. The FIA’s list of Pakistanis holding property in the UAE swelled to 1,115 with 2,029 properties, the bench was informed. The previous list carried the details of 895 Pakistanis holding properties in the UAE.
The FIA stated that 417 of the 1,115 Pakistani holders of properties in the UAE benefited from the amnesty scheme. It said 162 disclosed to FIA inquiry officer about their properties, 77 declared their assets in the tax returns submitted to the FBR while 90 disowned any property in the UAE.
Referring to the compliance of the service of notice for appearance before a committee, the FIA report stated that the notice was served upon 20 Pakistanis for appearance. Four of them were cleared, 14 needed further investigations, whereas two never appeared before the committee.
The court then adjourned further proceedings for Monday.
Published in Dawn, December 1st, 2018