National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Finance sub-committee has recently instructed National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to probe an investment of $8 billion made by Pakistanis in Dubai real estate. NAB has also been directed to get information from the UAE about the individuals behind such a huge investment.
It has been shared that NAB chairman will write a letter to UAE authorities and ask for their support in this regard. According to media reports, the parliamentary panel will work in collaboration with Emaar Properties PJSC and their subsidiary in Pakistan. They will investigate and find out the names of the people behind this investment.
Faheem Khan, Head of International Cooperation wing NAB, disclosed that NAB has the right to seek information from foreign authorities in accordance with Section 21 of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999 or Anti-Money Laundering Act 2010.
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Answering one of the questions to media, Faheem said that NAB was responsible to seek information about the much talked about Panama case by using its right under Section 21 of NAO. In addition, he showed his concern that many forces have been trying to snatch this power from NAB.
The sub-committee responsible to probe the matter constitutes; MNA Asad Umar and Isphanyar Bhandara as members while PML-N’s Shera Mansab Ali is chairing the committee.
Agenda of the sub-committee
According to State Bank’s ex-governor of Pakistan, the money flew out from the country through Hawala/Hundi; which has been declared as an illegal method of sending money to other countries. The money could also be transferred through foreign currency accounts that are safeguarded under Pakistan Economic Reforms Protection Act of 1992.
The main agenda of the sub-committee is to find out how $8 billion went out of Pakistan. In addition, information needs to be gathered as what are the ways of bringing it back to the country. Furthermore, they will also work on ways to prevent this outflow in future.
Tariq Pasha, Chairman of Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) said that the tax authorities have failed to play their role effectively in getting the right information from UAE under the double taxation treaty. He also said that their department has been after these officials in Dubai since 2011. However, all their efforts have gone in vain since then.
Asad Umar being a member of the committee disagrees with Pasha. He said Article 27 of the given treaty allows FBR to do more than just write letters to UAE officials.
The sub-committee has instructed FBR to expand its efforts in this regard. They are also directed to take strict action if UAE officials fail to abide by the treaty. Additionally, all concerned authorities including Federal Investigation Agency, NAB, State Bank, and FBR have been directed to detect ambiguities in existing money laundering laws.