2,700 properties owned by overseas Pakistanis traced, FIA tells SC

DG FIA Bashir Memon apprised the Supreme Court on Wednesday that the agency had traced 2,700 properties owned by overseas Pakistanis.
The revelation was made during the hearing of a suo motu notice by the Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Saqib Nisar of assets owned by Pakistani nationals in foreign countries.
As a three-member headed by the Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar began hearing the case, 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.
The chief justice instructed the attorney general to produce a report regarding Pakistanis who own 15-20 assets in foreign countries.
The governor of State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Tariq Bajwa then informed the court that 550 Pakistanis own properties abroad. The top judge then 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. “The markets are full of smuggled goods. Why have we been unable to stop smuggling?” Justice Nisar asked the attorney general.
Responding to the chief justice, 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 hundi-hawala business were recently arrested and Rs119 million recovered.
According to the attorney general, operations will be conducted soon in Karachi, Lahore, Multan, Peshawar, and Faisalabad. “The government has formed a task force which is quickly taking steps in this regard,” AG Javed said.
The FIA DG added that the government’s ownership in this matter comes through the task force’s operations. Justice Nisar responded, “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.”
The chief justice further remarked 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 dollars through Dubai to the country. He further noted that the agreement with the UK will help move forward to crack down on the illegal transfer of money.
After DG FIA Memon requested the apex court to grant a month’s time for further operations, the court gave 15 days to the agency 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.