ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) directed the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to provide the tax details of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s sister Aleema Khan in a case pertaining to offshore properties of ‘politically exposed individuals’.
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar took up the suo motu case on foreign bank accounts and assets owned by Pakistani citizens. The court already had taken notice of 44 individuals or their benamidars through whom the properties have been possessed in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
As Aleema was identified as a beneficiary of one such property in UAE, a notice was delivered to her address as well as emailed to her. In response to the notice, Aleema’s staff informed that she was not in the country.
During the proceedings, the FBR chairman told the court that Aleema had availed the tax amnesty scheme introduced in the previous government of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), which made her tax record confidential. However, he said that her tax details and documents concerning offshore property would be provided if the court ordered.
Justice Nisar directed the official to “provide the information to the court in a sealed envelope” and the bench will take a look at it.
The top court that had taken up the case pertaining to foreign properties of Pakistanis showed dissatisfaction over the progress of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) probe into 20 people pinpointed to be investigated.
The FBR official told the court that an investigation into these 20 people was underway. “Six of these people have been cleared on the basis of the sworn statement to the FBR [Federal Board of Revenue] and the FIA, the official said, adding that the statement of other 14 gave to the FIA do not match the FBR’s records.
The CJP, irked by lack of progress, directed the FIA to complete the investigation at a swift pace. The completion of this investigation will take a long time, if continued at present speed. Upon which, the official assured it would be completed by December.
Aleema Khan has become a subject of controversy after opposition parties accused the PM of giving an ‘NRO’ [National Reconciliation Ordinance] to his sister despite her owning an undeclared property in Dubai. The FBR had said that she deposited half of her Dubai property’s total cost with tax authorities — 25 per cent of total estimated amount of her luxurious flat in taxes and 25pc fine.
Consequently, former PM Nawaz Sharif demanded a National Accountancy Bureau (NAB) probe into the offshore assets of Aleema Khan.
“How did she [Aleema] manage to make properties worth billions in Dubai? Where did the money come from? She only paid a fine to keep the assets hidden, is this not an NRO?” he had asked in a conversation with journalists.
He said the nation wanted to know who was behind Aleema’s assets and added that his government saved Rs160 billion in power projects, but still it’s leadership was sent to jail.
On the other hand, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) also demanded a probe into Aleema’s property. The PPP had said that the payment of fine by PM’s sister for the properties she owns in Dubai is, in fact, a case of confession of holding illegal assets as she hasn’t mentioned them in her tax record.
“As Aleema Khan has agreed to pay the Federal Board of Revenue 25pc tax as much fine for her Dubai properties, it means she has admitted the illegality in holding the assets,” PPP deputy information secretary had said in a statement here on Friday.
According to the FIA’s list, out of the 1,115 Pakistanis, 338 belong to Punjab, 639 from Sindh, 115 from Islamabad, 18 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and five from Balochistan.
Moreover, of the total number of people, 417 of them have availed the tax amnesty scheme. Province-wise breakdown shows that 117 of the amnesty seekers belong to Punjab, 267 from Sindh and 29 from Islamabad.
Similarly, 162 people declared their assets during the FIA probe. Of them, 72 were from Sindh, 70 from Punjab, 14 from Islamabad, four from KP and two from Balochistan.
As many as 77 Pakistanis, who have their properties and other assets abroad, submitted their tax returns. Thirty-seven of them live in Sindh, 29 in Islamabad, eight in Punjab, two in Balochistan and one in KP.
The FIA probe also reveals that 90 of the foreign property holders denied having any asset in the UAE.
“Around 775 persons submitted their declaration to the FIA, while 351 foreign property holders are yet to furnish the document in this regard,” the report said.
The court was further informed that 18 people were not cooperating in the probe and 63 others couldn’t be identified who have their assets abroad.