Tuesday May 21, 2024

Politicians claim properties listed in 'Dubai Unlocked' exposé 'declared' with tax authorities

Senator Faisal Vawda terms 'Dubai Unlocked' exposé a "propaganda campaign"

By Web Desk
May 15, 2024
PPP chief Bilawal (left), Senator Faisal Vawda and Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi. — PPI/Online/AFP/File
PPP chief Bilawal (left), Senator Faisal Vawda and Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi. — PPI/Online/AFP/File

Pakistani politicians have issued clarification about the ownership of their properties in Dubai after an exposé listed details about their possessions in the upscale United Arab Emirates city.

In the investigation, titled Dubai Unlocked, several politicians, bureaucrats, globally sanctioned individuals, alleged money launderers and criminals have been named with details of their properties in the posh cosmopolitan.

From Pakistan, the combined value of those listed in the investigation is estimated at around $11 billion.

These names include, but are not limited to, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Sindh Senior Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon, Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi, Senator Faisal Vawda, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Sher Afzal Marwat and Azad Jammu and Kashmir Inspector General of Police (IGP) Dr Sohail Habib Tajik — some of whom have said that they possess declared properties in Dubai.

Bilawal's spokesperson, Zulfikar Ali Bader, said that all the assets of Bilawal and Aseefa Bhutto-Zardari are declared. These properties were inherited by them in the wake of their mother Benazir Bhutto's death.

Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi clarified that the Dubai property purchased in the name of his wife was fully disclosed and recorded in the tax return. It was also declared in the reports submitted to Punjab Election Commission when he was the provincial caretaker chief minister. The property, he added, was sold a year ago, and a new property was recently purchased with its proceeds.

Independent Senator Faisal Vawda, while reacting to the property leaks, termed them a "propaganda campaign", objecting to its timing. He questioned why there was no mention of anyone from PTI.

He lamented that all properties in Dubai have been stamped illegitimate, while a programme to issue a clean chit to a specific class has also been devised.

The politician asked if the goal of the leaks was to impact the investment work being done by Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) with friendly countries. He also questioned release of confidential property records just after the law and order situation got disturbed in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and asked who could be the ultimate target of the "propaganda campaign".

Sindh minister Memon said he submits the details of the properties in the declaration of assets and property every year. He added that the leaks expose nothing new, as everything is already public knowledge.

PPP lawmaker from Karachi, Mirza Ikhtiar Baig, acknowledged possessing around two dozen properties in the UAE, sharing that he owns them in partnership with his wife and brother Mirza Ishtiaq Baig.

The politician said the properties are worth between $137,915 and $329,430, all which, including his company, he claimed are disclosed in tax returns, while the tax is also paid on rental income.

AJK IGP Dr Tajik is also listed as possessing property in Al Dhafra 1 and Al Thania 3 in Dubai and confirmed ownership of the property.

Dr Tajik said he bought the property in 2002, while he was working at the United Nations and his salary was $10,000.

"I transferred the money from UN Bank to Dubai as a legal transaction and declared it in my assets," he said.

Former lieutenant general Shafaatullah Shah, son of former Director General Counter-intelligence (DGC), Major General (retd) Ehtisham Zameer along with his son and other children, former DG Military Lands and Cantonment Major General Najamul Hasan Shah and Major General (retd) Raja Muhammad Arif Nazir also confirmed owning properties in Dubai, stating that all the properties have been declared before the tax authorities.

Former Lt Gen Shafaatullah and Major Gen (retd) Ehtesham confirmed ownership of the property in his reply to Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), stating that all his foreign properties have been declared to the tax authorities in Pakistan. In his response, General (retd) Najam said he bought an off-plan property in 2007.

"We were told that the building will be completed in 2014 and the apartment will be handed over to us. But it is yet to be completed and we are currently in litigation with the management of the tower as they failed to deliver the apartment after almost 17 years," the former military man said.

Major Gen (retd) Nazir was said to possess a property in Golf Promenade A2, Al Hibiya Third Area. Informing The News about the property, he confirmed being its owner and added that it was gifted to him by his sons who are based in the United States and Denmark.

However, he also confirmed not declaring the property yet as it was off plan and he received its possession in 2022. The former military official said he will now declare the property.