Home General FBR completes probe into 15 cases relating to Panama Leaks

FBR completes probe into 15 cases relating to Panama Leaks

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ISLAMABAD: Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has confirmed that an investigation into 15 cases, related to the persons named in Panama Papers’ leaks, has been completed.

A member of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) said that above 450 persons had been named in Panama Papers over having offshore companies.

The revenue board has acquired details of 291 persons and investigations into 15 cases have been completed, the member said in his statement.

It was also revealed that the data of 8,000 benami accounts has also been tracked by FBR while the board will start receiving reports regarding suspicious bank transactions from April.

On March 13, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) had announced that the benami law, aimed at confiscating all properties and bank accounts that would not be registered with the name of a real owner, has been implemented.

The FBR said cases would be prepared against benami properties after a thorough investigation. An adjudicating authority will also be formed to decide the cases falling under the purview of the new law.

It said the decisions announced by the adjudicating authority could be challenged before an appellate tribunal. Under the law, benami properties would be confiscated for a period of ninety days. Besides, the seized property could also be auctioned following the verdict of the appellate tribunal.

The FBR had said commissioners of Islamabad and Karachi have been empowered to take action any properties in the benami law. The new law had been implemented in February 2017. Meanwhile, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has obtained details of 150,000 foreign accounts owned by Pakistanis, including 400 accounts with over $1 million in them.

Notices are being sent to the 400 account holders and the FBR will be sending notices to the owners of the remaining accounts with less than $1 million in them soon. The National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Finance was informed that this data is being analysed and taxes will be recovered from these account holders.

FBR Chairperson Mohammad Jehanzeb Khan said they could not say how much money would be recovered in taxes. It is estimated that the amount could touch Rs340 million.

Some people have more than one account, Khan told the standing committee. He also briefed the members on number of benami (without name) accounts in the country.

However, when the chairperson said there are 8,000 such accounts, a member of the committee, Dr Aisha Ghaus Pasha, countered that the number is in the hundreds of thousands and that the FBR’s data was incomplete. The FBR will recheck their information and present a briefing to the standing committee at a later date.

He said the process of analyzing the data, both of the benami accounts and foreign accounts, is being hastened. The board is dividing account holders into categories, based on whom action should be taken against first. Each case is being evaluated separately.

The FBR chief told the MNAs that last week, they recovered Rs170 million in taxes from a single Pakistani. There are 556 other high profile cases also being investigated by the board. He also said that banks are providing information to them on transactions exceed Rs10 million.

When committee chairperson Faizullah asked Khan about what happened about the hundreds of names that came up in the Panama Papers, he replied that the people have all been sent notices.

“We have obtained the data of 450 people till now but we could only work on 15 cases, he said. So far, we have demanded Rs6.5 billion in taxes in the cases, Khan told the committee.” The committee said it was not satisfied with the FBR’s briefing and directed it to prepare another briefing on the case. – NNI