SC seeks report about citizens' foreign assets

(MENAFN- Gulf Times) The Supreme Court of Pakistan yesterday sought a comprehensive report identifying citizens who hold properties and banks accounts in foreign countries and action taken against them by the government.
'It has been common knowledge for years that a large number of Pakistani citizens, who are residents of Pakistan and are maintaining accounts in foreign countries without disclosing the same to the authorities competent under the laws of Pakistan or paying taxes on the same in accordance with law, observed Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar while dictating an order in the open court.
Prima facie, the court observed, it appeared that such money was siphoned off without the payment of taxes through illegal channels and represented either ill-gotten gains or kickbacks from public contracts.
Such money creates gross disproportion, inequality and disparity in society, which warps economic activity and growth, and constitutes plunder and theft of national wealth, the chief justice regretted.
The court ordered the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to furnish on February 15 a comprehensive report regarding steps taken under the international agreements/treaties/protocols to identify the citizens who hold accounts in foreign jurisdictions, including the UAE, Switzerland, Luxemburg, Spain and the UK, and other tax haven jurisdictions, including British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands and Channel Islands.
The SBP, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and the finance ministry are also required to submit report on the steps taken, in collaboration with other state institutions, for retrieval of the said money.
According to the order, the FBR will submit a report providing details of the steps taken on the basis of information available, inter alia, through Panama Papers and Paradise Papers and the action taken against citizens holding foreign assets.
All state agencies, including Intelligence Bureau, Inter-Services Intelligence, Military Intelligence and FIA, are directed to share all requisite information available with them with the apex court, whereas the SBP, ministry of finance and foreign office will also collaborate with each other, collect and share information and approach the foreign jurisdictions to obtain information, as may be necessary, through legal and diplomatic channels.
The order recalled that recently the names of a large number of Pakistani citizens were disclosed in Panama Papers and Paradise Papers.
The FBR chairman had also appeared before the court and made a statement that appropriate action was being initiated against the citizens whose names had appeared in the Panama Papers.
Therefore, in exercise of powers under Article 184(3) of the constitution, the court took suo motu notice and summoned the people concerned to appear on February 15 to assist the court.


Gulf Times

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