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FIA issues 895 notices to individuals in foreign properties case, SC told

FIA issues 895 notices to individuals in foreign properties case, SC told

ISLAMABAD: The federal government on Tuesday informed the Supreme Court (SC) that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) issued notices to 895 individuals in the foreign properties case.

A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar was told that 642 affidavits have been obtained out of 895 notices were issued inquiring about the foreign property.

Attorney General Anwar Mansoor Khan also said that out of the 642 affidavits, 185 are from Punjab, 390 from Sindh, 52 from Islamabad, 4 from Balochistan and 17 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The court was further informed that some individuals claim they disclosed their properties recently in the amnesty scheme, some are under probe by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and some individuals have disowned the properties.

In order to initiate further proceedings to recover money from those who illegally own properties abroad, the attorney general has sought two weeks from the court, however, the CJP urged him to speed up the process.

Last month, the SC directed FIA to present a report pertaining to the legality of 2,700 properties acquired by Pakistanis in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The hearing has been adjourned till October 25.

Earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Special Assistant on Accountability Shahzad Akbar had said that the newly constituted Asset Recovery Unit (ARU) comprising National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) officials will investigate over 10,000 foreign properties owned by Pakistanis.

“ARU members have been selected and we have received details about 10,000 properties owned by Pakistanis in the United Kingdom (UK) and United Arab Emirates (UAE),” he had said, adding that details of “at least half of the 10,000 properties were previously available but no action was taken”.

Moreover, it was said that notices have been issued for 300 properties from the list which had been divided into two parts, one for politically exposed people, and one for other citizens.

“The politically exposed people will be investigated in terms of money laundering and will be asked that how they managed to own such properties worth billions of rupees,” he had said, adding that the people who were not politically exposed but owned such properties would also be scrutinised as they also committed crime by hiding their properties and evading huge amount of taxes.

He had said about half of the above-mentioned properties were already known during the tenure of the previous government, but the previous government committed criminal oblivion by not taking any action against them.

He had also informed that among these properties, two flats in London were registered in the personal name of former finance minister Ishaq Dar, and these properties were not known to anyone before.

Shahzad Akbar said majority of these properties were `benami’ assets and were registered in the name of wives, children or personal employees of the big names.

“The ARU will submit a fortnightly progress report to the Supreme Court,” he had said.

Akbar had further said that the task force will ensure that the money sent abroad illegally is brought back.

“In the first stage, we have initiated an inquiry against 895 foreign properties and officers of the FIA and NAB are part of the investigation,” he had added.

Earlier, the FIA Director General Bashir Memon had told the apex court that the agency had traced 2,700 properties owned by overseas Pakistanis.

A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar heard the suo motu notice of assets owned by Pakistani nationals in foreign countries, where Attorney General (AG) Khalid Javed presented a report in court.

He informed the court that the United Kingdom and Pakistan have launched a partnership which aims to track corruption and restart the bilateral transfer of prisoners.

Following this, the AG was directed to submit a report regarding Pakistanis “who own 15-20 assets in foreign countries”. State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Governor Tariq Bajwa informed the court that “550 Pakistanis own properties abroad”. The top judge observed that he was aware that Pakistanis own properties worth Rs1, 000 billion in Dubai.

According to the attorney general, operations were conducted soon in Karachi, Lahore, Multan, Peshawar, and Faisalabad as per orders from the government.

The FIA DG had added that the government’s ownership in this matter comes through the task force’s operations.

The Supreme Court also ordered the authorities to submit a report regarding the progress on curbing money laundering and bringing illegally transferred money back to Pakistan.