‘Dubai Property Leaks’: Pakistani politicians named in data defend ownership

  • Bilawal, Interior Minister and PTI’s Marwat assert their properties identified in data already declared
  • Data reveals Pakistani nationals own property worth approximately $11 billion in Dubai

ISLAMABAD: In the wake of an astounding volume of leaked data regarding properties owned by foreigners in Dubai, some of the Pakistani politicians named in it on Tuesday night downplayed the development, claiming that there was nothing wrong with the practice and that properties under their name were already declared.

The released data provides a detailed overview of hundreds of thousands of properties in Dubai and information about their ownership or usage, largely from 2020 and 2022. It was obtained by the Center for Advanced Defence Studies (C4ADS), a non-profit organisation based in Washington, D.C., that researches international crime and conflict.

Prominent names include PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, his siblings Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari and Aseefa Bhutto Zardari; wife of Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi, Ms Ashraf; Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Memon; MNA Ikhtiar Baig; son of PML-N President Nawaz Sharif, Hussain Nawaz; son of General (retd) Qamar Javed Bajwa, Saad Siddique Bajwa; Senator Faisal Vawda, Sardar Sanaullah Zehri, Akhtar Mengal and PML-N MNA Ehsanul Haq Bajwa.

The PPP said there was “nothing new or illegal” in the information since its chairman’s assets were already publicly declared — a sentiment echoed by other politicians as well.

In a response issued an hour after the information was made public, Bilawal’s spokesperson Zulfikar Ali Bader said that the former foreign minister and Aseefa had already declared all their domestic and foreign property with the Election Commission of Pakistan and Federal Board of Revenue.

He added that the information was available on the ECP website as well.

“There is nothing new or illegal in this story. Apparently, this is neither news nor a scandal as the information is already in the public domain,” Bader said.

He said it was public information that the two siblings had grown up in exile and lived in the same property mentioned in the report with their mother, former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, going on to inherit it after her assassination.

“Any action or insinuation based on defamation will be challenged in the relevant forums,” Bader warned.

It is to be noted that the data reveals that Pakistani nationals own property worth approximately $11 billion in Dubai.

This analysis is part of the OCCRP’s ‘Property Leaks’ story but does not specifically concentrate on Pakistanis, who hold less than 2.5% of the total $389 billion in property value.

A global investigative journalism initiative has disclosed details of property ownership in Dubai involving global elites, including politicians, sanctioned individuals, and those accused of money laundering and criminal activities. Pakistanis on this list are estimated to have around $11 billion in properties.

The project, titled ‘Dubai Unlocked’, draws from data spanning 2020 to 2022. It extensively reviews property ownership in Dubai, excluding properties bought under company names or in commercial zones.

The data was initially collected by the Washington, DC-based non-profit Centre for Advanced Defence Studies (C4ADS) and subsequently shared with the Norwegian financial outlet E24 and the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP). A six-month investigative collaboration followed, involving journalists from 74 media outlets across 58 countries. The collaboration revealed numerous individuals who owned property in Dubai, including convicted criminals, fugitives, and political figures.


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