ISLAMABAD   -  The Supreme Court on Thursday directed Aleema Khanum, sister of Prime Minister Imran Khan, to deposit Rs29.4 million with Federal Board of Revenue as fine and tax on her Dubai’s property.

The top court further ruled that Khanum could avail the appropriate remedy to challenge the liabilities determined by FBR subject to depositing the Rs29.4 million.

Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, however, asked the FBR to attach the property of Khanum in case she failed to deposit the amount. He was heading a three-judge bench which heard a suo motu case regarding Pakistanis’ assets stashed abroad without disclosing the same in the country.

On October 27, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had submitted before the top court the details of close relatives of prominent political personalities who owned properties in the UAE. Aleema Khanum was in the list of FIA and identified as ‘benamidar’ of a property.

In her affidavit submitted with FIA, she stated, “The Lofts East: 1460 was paid for from funds generated from my business dealings overseas. Further, I have already disposed of my property and have also informed the FBR about the purchase and sale of the said property.”

During the course of hearing, Khanum appeared before the bench along with her counsel Salman Akram Raja and informed the bench that she purchased the property in UAE in 2008 against $370,000, adding that she had sold the said property in 2017.

She further informed the bench that she had 50 percent amount for the property while she raised further 50 percent amount through mortgage.

Raja contended before the bench that her client’s liabilities were Rs18 million. However, FBR claimed that the Board had determined Rs29.4 million as Khanum’s liabilities.

During the hearing, the chief justice asked what action had been taken in terms of recovery from those Pakistanis who stashed their assets abroad having not disclosed the same in the country.

The chief justice enquired about the progress in 20 cases which were referred by the top court to FBR as a test case. FBR was of the view that criminal proceedings could not be initiated rather recoveries could be made, remarked the chief justice.

Chairman FBR informed the bench that special team had been constituted in compliance with the top court order which had put its best efforts, adding that 4 cases out of 20 cases had been decided.

Member Operations of FBR informed the bench that one Naushad Haroon had not disclosed his 6 properties and Rs20 million were determined as liabilities and tax amount.

Justice Ijazul Ahsan, member of the bench, also questioned whether the amount was transferred through legitimate sources.

Director General FIA submitted progress in the matter.  Previously, there were 1,115 Pakistani property holders in UAE.

Out of these, 420 persons availed Amnesty Scheme 2018 and 23 persons are accused by the NAB. 166 persons disclosed their assets before enquiry officer of FIA while 78 persons declared their assets in tax returns to FBR. 93 persons disowned any UAE property and 768 persons submitted affidavits. Notices were served to 272 persons and unidentified persons were 62. 1 person is absconder and 17 are non cooperative.

However, according to the report of FIA, 96 new property holders with 135 properties in UAE had been unearthed.

A total of 1,208 Pakistanis holding 2,154 properties in UAE have been identified till yet.

During the hearing, Member Operations FBR further informed the bench that Sheikh Farid ud Din had committed to deposit Rs2 million within a week. The bench was further informed that Naureen Sami Khan had deposited Rs3 million and she had committed to pay Rs2 million further.

The chief justice remarked that collectively, Rs45 million had been recovered after the SC took notice. He asked as to what the FBR had been doing before cognisance of the top court. He also questioned the efficiency of FBR and its duties.

When FBR officials appreciated the top court’s cognisance, the chief justice questioned as to why the court was compelled to interfere in every matter, adding that it was the matter of Rs3,000 million.

DG FIA informed the bench that so far 2,154 properties had been unearthed and the Agency’s cyber crime wing was still working, adding that more properties would be unearthed and the amount would exceed from Rs3,000 million.

The Member Operations FBR said that CEO of IBM, a multi-national company, Hamayun Bashir had been cleared and he earned from Dubai.

Hamayun Bashir informed the bench that all the record had been provided to FIA, adding that all his assets were disclosed in 2013.

The chief justice remarked that the court would conduct the audit if it deemed necessary. Chief justice enquired regarding action taken against those who had not appeared before the committee.

Chairman FBR contended that the Committee’s model, which decided 20 cases, should be allowed to carry out its work for rest of the properties, which have been discovered by the FIA.

The bench ruled that the FBR shall initiate proceedings on fast track and submit its progress report on monthly basis.

 

SYED SABEEHUL HUSSNAIN