NAB to probe Pakistanis investments in Dubai real estate

NAB to probe Pakistanis investments in Dubai real estate

ISLAMABAD: National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue on Friday decided to send the case of Pakistanis’ investment in the real estate sector of Dubai to National Accountability Bureau (NAB) after months-long debate in the parliamentary committees and media.

On the other hand, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) for the first time claimed that it received confirmation of 55 Pakistani nationals who invested in real estate in Dubai.

At the same time, a reporter of private a media outlet— who was allowed to speak in the committee’s meeting on request of members— claimed that he had received a list (soft copy) of around 5, 000 Pakistanis who have invested in real estate sector of Dubai.

According to the reporter, over 5,000 super-rich Pakistanis bought luxury residential villas, flats, and estates in renowned localities in the UAE capital. The documents contained particulars of some 33, 737 rich families from various countries in all.

Interestingly, the list was received by the journalist from a top official of FBR in 2015. Later, the journalist claimed that the same list was shared by someone with the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

Committee member Asad Umar said that it has been established through the exercise of past two years that both the FBR and FIA were lying and misleading the parliamentary body by saying that they had no list of Pakistani investors in Dubai.

Finance and Economic Affairs Minister Rana Afzal Khan said that the government could probe into the new revelation about Dubai investment if the journalist shares the name of the FBR officials, who shared the list with him.

However, the members of the committee turned down the suggestion saying that reporters cannot share sources.

FBR spokesperson Dr Muhammad Iqbal said since the new disclosure was not part of the agenda, he could not comment on it. “I personally do not know about the record the FBR had in 2015,” he said.

Earlier, the spokesperson said that the FBR was investigating the list of 100 people shared by the FIA. “In developments of last week, the Dubai government confirmed the 55 names out of the 100. We have received 35 copies of passports and verification of data is in the process,” Iqbal said, adding that the FBR was investigating the tax data and other records of the said people.

Rana Afzal, on the occasion, claimed that Ministry of Finance was going to hold a meeting on the Dubai investment issue in the evening on Friday. He said no institution can officially make a statement or progress until verified evidence is available.

Abdul Rasheed Godel, a member of the committee, said that “who can say that there is no evidence of investment in Dubai as the whole nation has been noticing the advertisement in media about investment opportunities in Dubai real estate”.

NA committee Chairman Qaisar Ahmed Sheikh, who chaired the meeting, said that the Supreme Court has already taken a notice of the issue. The country’s top court has directed the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), the Securities Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), the Intelligence Bureau (IB), Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Military Intelligence (MI), the Foreign Office and the Federal Investigative Authority (FIA) to share their information about foreign bank accounts and foreign assets held by Pakistani citizens.

During the meeting, Dr Shezra Mansab Ali Khan Kharal, chairperson of the sub-committee on finance, presented final findings of the committee on Dubai investment issue.

Referring to recommendations of the committee, she said, as the concerned institutions, like the FBR and FIA, claimed that they could not get information despite repeated attempts from Dubai, the issue may be taken up at an executive [prime minister] level to get the relevant information.

She said on the directives of the committee the FIA shared names of 100 Pakistanis who own properties in Dubai.

Later on, the committee recommended that not only Dubai but the illegal investments by Pakistanis in other countries should also be investigated.

The findings said SBP had never allowed anyone to invest in properties abroad. She said a NAB’s representative informed the committee that the bureau has the power and rule to investigate illegal investments abroad.

Later the members of standing committee unanimously decided to send the Dubai investment case to NAB for investigation, for which the National Assembly speaker would also be consulted.

Content courtesy: pakistantoday.com