The top court appears resolute to ferret out details of dirty money sent abroad through illicit means. In the latest case hearing, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) submitted before the Supreme Court a list of 44 individuals – who belong to the political realm – who possessed properties in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Featuring in the list are scions and wives of politicians, former bureaucrats, bankers and an anchorperson.
The newly-installed government of Imran Khan and the chief justice of Pakistan have separately vowed to bring back the looted money stashed overseas. A country with meager foreign exchange reserves can ill-afford such wanton outflow of dollars. It must find ways to check laundering of black money through loopholes in the system. Coming good on their promise, the authorities in September had decided to serve notices on some 300 Pakistanis who own properties in the UAE. The notices were sent to individuals who possessed six or more properties in the emirates. They were asked about the sources of their income and whether or not they paid tax on the assets. It may be mentioned here that under a two-way treaty, investments in Dubai must be shown in the wealth statements filed in Pakistan. But the crooked still find means and employ tactics to skirt controls and evade the tax liability. Naming and shaming such individuals may be one way of reversing the trend.
But Pakistan is not alone in facing the challenge of illegal outflows. Developing countries have a similar problem to contend with. According to a Washington-based notprofit, GFI, US$1.1 trillion left developing countries in illicit financial outflows in 2013. GFI classifies this movement as an illicit flow when the funds are illegally earned, transferred, and utilised. Some examples of illegal financial flows might include a corrupt public official using an anonymous shell company to transfer dirty money to a back account abroad or a terrorist wiring money from one country to an operative in Europe. The perpetrators of this crime leave the country of origin drained of resources and revenues. It is only fitting that the authorities continue their clampdown on illegal transfer of money.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 29th, 2018.