Black money was allegedly used to buy lavish properties in Dubai.

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Former President of the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI), Dr Shahid Rasheed Butt, said on Wednesday that elites view Pakistan as a valuable resource and are only interested in resource extraction. They do not consider Pakistan their country; otherwise, they would not have plundered it so ruthlessly, he added. He claimed that the elite only cares about looting in Pakistan and sends black money abroad to start businesses and buy properties.

Shahid Rashid Butt, in a statement issued here, said that the investment made by Pakistanis in Dubai’s real estate market is equal to almost half of the value of our stock exchange. On the other hand, Indian investors’ investment in Dubai represents less than 0.5 per cent of the value of their stock exchange. This demonstrates Pakistanis’ preference for property and confidence in Dubai’s market.

The business leader said that according to Dubai Leaks, Pakistanis have invested eleven billion dollars in its property market. If the property purchased in the name of companies is also counted, this amount will jump to at least 20 billion dollars.

He stated that political actors’ amendments to Pakistan’s foreign exchange laws have legitimised numerous illegal measures, leading to a dangerous increase in capital flight from the country. The continued flight of capital has left our economy lifeless. He noted that Pakistan, a nation struggling to make ends meet and frantically seeking assistance from international lenders and other nations, continues to transfer billions of dollars outside the country.

Within some of Dubai’s most affluent neighbourhoods, such as Dubai Marina, Emirates Hills, Business Bay, Palm Jumeirah, and Al Barsha, Pakistanis own various real estate, ranging from commercial properties to entire buildings and luxury villas. He observed a stringent prohibition against taking large sums of money outside the country without obtaining approval from the central bank. Therefore, many of those involved in property scams may have sent money abroad illegally to buy real estate.

A Pakistani citizen who purchases property outside the country is required to declare the transaction in their tax returns and pay any taxes payable on the property, but the majority have not paid attention to this while making purchases in Dubai.

The FBR should review the wealth statements of Pakistanis with overseas properties to confirm their declaration and payment of any relevant taxes.

It should be verified whether the owners disclosed any wealth that could account for purchasing the asset at the price disclosed in the Dubai Leaks. 

The FBR has the authority to amend the owner’s tax return and impose taxes, along with a default surcharge and penalty, if they cannot reconcile the price of the asset and its purchase with their tax return. However, there is little chance that the authorities would initiate any such action, fearing the political influence of those involved.

Shahid Rashid Butt said that after Swiss banks and London, Dubai has now become the global centre for hiding black money. Still, the FATF and other international institutions continue to ignore it.

 
 

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