Which financial crisis? Best Leaks show that billion-dollar Dubai villas are owned by Pakistani politicians - Time Blogger

Three prominent Pakistanis are named in the Property Leaks: the spouse of Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi, Hussain Nawaz Sharif, and President Asif Ali Zardari’s children.

Leaked Data Exposes Offshore Property Holdings of Prominent Pakistanis

A report by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) revealed that a significant number of prominent Pakistani figures own upscale properties in Dubai. This disclosure, part of the OCCRP’s “Dubai Unlocked” initiative, exposed details of individuals from various sectors, including politics, the military, banking, and bureaucracy.

The investigation, led by the Centre for Advanced Defence Studies (C4ADS), unearthed ownership information for over 23,000 properties registered to Pakistani nationals in Dubai. The data was subsequently shared with global media outlets.

Prominent Names Among Property Owners

The leaks identified several notable Pakistanis, including the children of former presidents Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif, the spouse of Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi, along with legislators, former officials, and business personalities. The list included figures like Senator Faisal Vawda, Sharjeel Memon, the late General Pervez Musharraf, former Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, retired military officers, a police chief, an ambassador, and a scientist. Many of these individuals reportedly owned properties directly or indirectly through family members.

Varied Property Portfolio and Discrepancies

The leaked data revealed a range of properties, from modest studio apartments to luxurious villas in Dubai’s prime locations like Dubai Marina, Emirates Hills, and Palm Jumeirah. The disclosures also highlighted discrepancies in property declarations, such as the undisclosed villa owned by Interior Minister Naqvi’s wife, which was absent from his election nomination documents.

The investigation further exposed individuals with controversial backgrounds, including members of the sanctioned Altaf Khanani network and a physician linked to criminal activities, as Dubai property owners.

Data Seen as Tool to Combat Tax Evasion

Pakistan’s Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) viewed the leak as a significant development in their fight against tax evasion. The FBR chairman expressed their intent to utilize the data, alongside residency information, to ensure that those liable for taxes on Pakistani rental income or property gains fulfill their obligations.

Challenges in Recovering Undisclosed Assets

Despite efforts to regulate and recover undisclosed assets, responses from Dubai have been limited due to geopolitical and political constraints. The investigation emphasized the hurdles Pakistan faces in bringing these assets under the tax umbrella, as Dubai authorities remain hesitant to share information regarding Pakistani property ownership.

Responses from Pakistani Politicians

Following the leaks, politicians like Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari’s spokesperson reaffirmed that all domestic and international assets belonging to him and his family had been duly declared to the Election Commission and the FBR. Similarly, Interior Minister Naqvi maintained that his wife’s Dubai property was included in their tax returns. PTI leader Sher Afzal Marwat also acknowledged owning a Dubai apartment and asserted that it had been declared with relevant authorities for the past six years.

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