While hearing a suo motu case against properties in foreign countries, the top judge said that those who have not declared their assets should be charged with money laundering.
Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan Tariq Bajwa was present for the hearing. He apprised the court that the London authorities had provided information about properties of 225 individuals to the Federal Board of Revenue. “The special adviser to the court Shabbar Zaidi, however, has issued notices to 300 individuals for owning properties abroad. Most of the money has been transferred abroad through hawala,” he said.
“We will request the Dubai authorities to take up legal proceedings against those who have not declared their foreign properties under the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 2017,” said the SBP governor.
Responding to SBP Governor Bajwa, Justice Umar Ata Bandial remarked that the Terms of Reference of the committee were ‘simple’. “These are the people who have stolen money and taken it abroad.” The chief justice remarked that a notice was taken in the case five years ago but the progress has been slow.
“The Amnesty Scheme set a two per cent tax which was very less. Indonesia has set a 17 per cent tax hence the scheme has been successful there. According to the report, nearly eight billion dollars worth of property has been declared,” Justice Bandial noted.
Furthermore, the attorney general apprised the court that acting on court orders, a notification had been issued on August 28 and a task force was formed which included officials from the Federal Investigation Agency, National Accountability Bureau, Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, and the Ministry of Finance.
“The government wants to pass a legislation to bring back money from abroad and it wants to monitor the matters of public interest under the court’s monitoring. The court must consider that Prime Minister Imran Khan will be briefed regarding Hundi and Hawala today before announcing a verdict,” said the attorney general.
The Supreme Court then issued instructions to present a list of those served notices in a sealed envelope. “If these names are disclosed, the FBR and SC registrar will be responsible,” the bench noted.
The hearing was then adjourned till September 5.