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November 15, 2019

FBR’s Benami zones file 15 references involving Rs10 bn

Top Story

November 15, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The FBR’s Benami zones have so far filed 15 references before adjudicating authority with alleged involvement of more than Rs10 billion in shape of real estate and shares belonging to property tycoons, businessman and politicians.

The filed reference included eight against Omni Group, six against Ch Tanveer of Rawalpindi and one against a property tycoon. When contacted, the FBR’s Director General Anti Benami Initiatives (ABI) Dr Bashirullah Marwat confirmed to The News on Thursday that they became fully operational to go against Benami asset holders with iron hand. He said that this action would be in full swing in weeks and months ahead.

However, official sources said that with the enactment of Benami Transaction Prohibition Act (BTPA), director general of Anti Benami Initiative has kick-started a far-reaching campaign against corruption veiled in shape of Benami assets/ properties.

The FBR has established Benami Zones in three cities of the country and have been given jurisdiction all over Pakistan. For filing of a reference, the Benami Initiating Authority should have solid proof against the beneficial owner.

Furthermore, the initiating authority has to establish links of the asset to the alleged Benamidar and beneficial owner. Therefore, in the initial time-frame since the inception of this directorate, a very few references were filed.

Approximately in last four months, 15 references have been filed before the adjudicating authority which involves Benami assets of more than 10 billion in the form of land, properties and shares belonging to all sphere of life including real estate tycoons, businessman and politicians.

Apart from that a total of Rs20 billion worth of Benami assets are also under investigation and under various stages of processing than before filing of references. Additionally, assets worth Rs17 billion have already been attached provisionally by the authority. Attachment of a Benami asset means that they can no longer be disposed of by the Benamidar. Currently the agency is probing into 212 Benamidars with 148 beneficial owners.

The law, with promulgation of rules is powerful enough to become a nightmare for those who park their wealth in the names of Benamidars. Currently, the Directorate of Anti Benami Initiative and its zones do not have ample capacity to take on the huge influx of Benami complaints and information from the whistle-blowers. Across Pakistan, a total of 11 officers of are working who are supported by 25 newly appointed inspectors.

The current human resource capacity in this organisation is like a drop in the bucket if compared to the decades-old-menace of Banami transactions in Pakistan.

In order to make ABI a success story and to rationalise the drive against corruption, the PTI-led government should adequately provide workforce to this organisation and provide it with the required administrative and logistic resources. If sufficient resources are provided then it could become further effective.

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