Pakistan seeks details from UAE about citizens buying assets through ‘ill-gotten money’

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General view of Dubai's cranes at a construction site in Dubai, UAE December 18, 2018. (REUTERS)
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The Pakistani government has written to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) seeking “missing information” about its citizens who have bought movable and immovable assets in the Emirates allegedly through ill-gotten money (File/Reuters)
Updated 25 August 2019
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Pakistan seeks details from UAE about citizens buying assets through ‘ill-gotten money’

  • Islamabad struggling to track foreign assets bought via money laundering in other countries, including UAE 
  • Campaign has met with little success due to absence of mutual legal assistance treaties with host countries

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani government has written to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) seeking “missing information” about its citizens who have bought movable and immovable assets in the Emirates allegedly through ill-gotten money, a Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) official said.
Islamabad has been struggling to track foreign assets of its citizens in other countries, including the UAE, allegedly purchased through money-laundering. But the campaign to repatriate culprits has so far met with little success due to the absence of mutual legal assistance treaties with the host countries.
“It is a routine process …. we have written to the UAE authorities to seek some missing information on individuals like their bank accounts details, complete name, etc. for further investigation to see if they had bought assets through money-laundering,” Dr. Hamid Ateeq Sarwar, the FBR’s member inland revenue policy, told Arab News.
According to the Dubai real estate market, Pakistanis were among the top ten foreign investors in property in the UAE in 2018. Pakistani authorities suspect that its nationals who have obtained the UAE iqama, or work permit, have been using it to hide their illegal wealth in the Emirates.
“We are gravely concerned with the persons who have siphoned off funds illegally from Pakistan, parked them in the UAE and are now hiding behind iqama-based residential status to circumvent reporting under the CRS (common reporting standard),” the FBR said in the letter to the UAE Ministry of Finance on Friday.
Pakistan became a member of the multilateral Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 2016 which has released the CRS, a global standard for automatic exchange of financial account information, including the systematic and periodic exchange of taxpayer information over its 100 member jurisdictions.
Under the mechanism, Pakistan has received information of some 3,620 accounts of Pakistanis in the UAE, but said that “the number of material accounts with a substantial balance is negligible.”
Sarwar said that the exchange of information was an ongoing process and “those who have laundered money from Pakistan and bought assets anywhere in the world won’t be spared.”
International tax law experts believe that Pakistan would have little success in gathering valuable information on its citizens from other countries until bilateral mutual legal assistance treaties were signed.
“It is a futile exercise. No country will share any authentic information and evidence of money laundering or tax evasion with us until we succeed in signing bilateral agreements for the purpose,” Habibullah Khan, advocate Supreme Court and expert on international tax laws, told Arab News.
He said that even if the FBR got some information about Pakistani citizens who had bought properties in other countries, “this will be almost impossible to prove in our courts that assets were bought through ill-gotten wealth.”


Makkah, Karachi chambers agree to jointly develop business sector

Updated 5 min 59 sec ago
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Makkah, Karachi chambers agree to jointly develop business sector

  • Saudi Arabia is one of the top exporters to Pakistan
  • Mutual events and joint investment can help enhance bilateral business ties, says MCCI chief

MAKKAH: Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) chief Hisham bin Mohammed Kaaki met with his Pakistani counterpart Junaid Ismail, president of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) on Sunday in a bid to explore ways of jointly developing the business sector of the two countries, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
The meeting, headed by the visiting Saudi official, aimed at strengthening bilateral ties and to mull over areas of shared interests for the business community in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.
Ibrahim Bardisi, secretary-general of the MCCI, was also in the attendance.
Kaaki said that the visit to KCCI would help strengthen mutual cooperation, exchange of expertise, arrange bilateral visits and events, in addition to organizing forums and exhibitions to help develop private sector and result in strong ties between the entrepreneurs on both sides. 
He added that interaction between the Saudi and Pakistani business community can be enhanced through various mutual activities, exhibitions and joint investments.
He lauded the relations between the two countries noting that he highly valued his visit to KCCI, which was Pakistan’s largest business body.
Ismail highlighted that Pakistan had a well developed textile and military industry, in addition to offering prospects in technology sector, civil engineering and other scopes of mutual interest. Organizing exhibitions would help strengthen bilateral ties indeed, he said.
The non-oil Saudi exports to Pakistan in the last five years are estimated at SR17 billion ($4.42 billion), including food items and construction material estimated at SR191 million and SR965 million respectively.
The Kingdom is one of the top exporters to Pakistan, while the latter exports textile goods, cloth, processed cotton, rice, meat, fruits, vegetables, spices, leather products, electronic and chemicals to Saudi Arabia.