–CJP orders AGP to trace Pakistanis who own ’15-20′ foreign assets, says all individuals will be dealt under Article 4
ISLAMABAD: Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Director General Bashir Memon on Wednesday told the Supreme Court (SC) that the agency had traced 2,700 properties owned by overseas Pakistanis.
A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar heard the suo motu notice of assets owned by Pakistani nationals in foreign countries, where Attorney General (AG) Khalid Javed presented a report in court.
He informed the court that the United Kingdom and Pakistan have launched a partnership which aims to track corruption and restart the bilateral transfer of prisoners.
Following this, the AG was directed to submit a report regarding Pakistanis “who own 15-20 assets in foreign countries”. State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Governor Tariq Bajwa informed the court that “550 Pakistanis own properties abroad”. The top judge observed that he was aware that Pakistanis own properties worth Rs1, 000 billion in Dubai.
“Out of the 550 people who own these properties, we can summon 15 or 20 individuals. But we won’t force anyone,” he remarked.
“All individuals will be dealt with in accordance to Article 4 of the Constitution. If there is a possibility that the court’s order can spread fear, the government should act then. We are only trying to resolve the matter voluntarily,” Justice Nisar noted.
Furthermore, the top judge expressed his displeasure at the failure of authorities to stop the hundi-hawala business saying, “The markets are full of smuggled goods. Why have we been unable to stop smuggling?”
Following the question, AG Javed remarked that “laws to stop smuggling and hundi-hawala are being framed for the very first time”. He further informed the court that 44 agents involved in the business were recently arrested and Rs119 million were recovered from them.
According to the attorney general, operations will be conducted soon in Karachi, Lahore, Multan, Peshawar, and Faisalabad as per orders from the government.
The FIA DG added that the government’s ownership in this matter comes through the task force’s operations.
“Give the entire ownership to the government. When did we say we wanted ownership? Just provide us with the list of people who laundered money from Pakistan,” Justice Nisar responded.
He further stated that “according to Section 183 of Article 4 of the Constitution, we must take action against money launderers in the public’s best interest”.
As the hearing proceeded, AG Javed, informed the court that a man arrested in the United Kingdom had transferred $250 million through Dubai to the country.
“The agreement with the UK will help move forward to crack down on the illegal transfer of money,” he said.
Following this Bashir Memon requested the apex court to grant a month’s time for further operations. However, they were given 15 days to proceed with its crackdown on the illegal transfer of money out of Pakistan.
The Supreme Court also ordered the authorities to submit a report regarding the progress on curbing money laundering and bringing illegally transferred money back to Pakistan.