ISLAMABAD: The controversy surrounding Prime Minister Imran Khan seemed to be over as the Supreme Court on Thursday ordered his sister, Aleema Khanum, to pay tax liabilities worth Rs29.4 million as determined by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).
Khanum accompanied by her counsel Salman Akram Raja appeared before a three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar, for hearing of a suo motu case regarding retrieval of unlawful assets of the Pakistani individuals from abroad.
The FBR’s official informed the court that a fine and tax worth Rs29.4 million had been due against Khanum. The court told her to pay the tax liabilities. The chief justice said that if Khanum does not pay the due tax, her properties would be attached. However, the court allowed that she could avail the remedy of appeal against the FBR decision about tax determination.
In an affidavit submitted to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Khanum had already revealed that she owned a property — namely Lofts East 1406 — in Dubai and that it was paid from the funds generated from her business dealing overseas. To the query from the bench, Khanum said that she purchased the property worth $370,000 in 2008 with 50% bank mortgage but sold it out in 2017.
An FBR report said that the conduct of Khanum was uncooperative. It said that a notice was issued to her on February 12 but she did not respond. On a reminder on February 19, Khanum informed that property was purchased on September 18, 2008 for net off loan of Rs27,005,336 and had been sold out on April 16, 2014.
The FBR issued another notice to her for providing purchase and sale documents by March 5 but she did not reply. Fresh reminder was issued on July 20 but again she did not respond. When the case was fixed for hearing on August 27 her counsel requested for adjournment.
On September 4, she submitted partial documentary evidence and committed to submit the remaining on November 20 but she again requested for adjournment up to December 5. Show-cause notice was issued along with notice under the Income Tax Ordinance on December 10.
Upon this, Khanum furnished a written reply to the show-cause notice on December 11. Later, the FBR on December 12 finalised amended assessment for the tax year 2017. Under the law, Khanum can challenge tax liability before the tax tribunal.
About tax investigation regarding other 20 individuals, who are holding properties in UAE, the FBR informed the bench that five individuals paid tax liabilities worth Rs45 million. Likewise, the FBR determined tax liabilities of Rs571 million in nine other cases.
The report says that Supreme Court’s directions were fully acknowledged. “In fact FBR and FIA sitting jointly and implementing their respective laws have an altogether new dimension to taxation and law enforcement in Pakistan,” said the report.
“The framework would now be expanded to other cases of UAE properties and court’s endorsement would strengthen enforcement and implementation for investigating these properties”, it added.
Meanwhile, FIA Director General Bashir Memon submitted a report, telling the bench that the agency has identified a total of 1,208 Pakistanis, who are holding 2,154 properties in the UAE. Previously 1,115 Pakistani property holders in UAE were identified.
Of these 1,115 Pakistanis, 420 availed the Amnesty Scheme 2018 and 23 were accused by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), 166 appeared for FIA inquiry, 78 declared assets in the tax returns, 93 disowned any UAE property and 768 submitted affidavits.
The FIA chief said that notices had been served to 272 people, one was absconder, 17 were not cooperative, while 62 still remained unidentified. According to the fresh report, 96 new property holders with 135 properties in UAE unearthed.
The chairman FBR told the bench that prevailing mechanism about the recovery of amount from these individuals was very fruitful. Upon this, the court allowed the FBR and the FIA to continue their processes and submit progress report after every month.
During the hearing, the chief justice also hinted at the possibility about conducting an audit of the FBR. He wondered that why the revenue authorities did not proceed in this matter before the court’s intervention, saying that the properties of the Pakistanis in UAE was worth Rs3,000 billion.