The Pakistan Supreme Court was on Monday informed that Pakistan nationals hold assets and properties worth over $150 billion in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
A report by A.F. Ferguson, a chartered accountancy firm, was presented in the court in connection with a case on the offshore accounts and properties of Pakistan nationals, reported Dawn.
"Such a massive amount is still parked abroad despite the amnesty scheme?" Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar questioned during the court proceeding.
The governor of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), Tariq Bajwa underlined the steps taken in order to recover the funds.
"Notices have been issued to the 125 people who have assets in the UAE. If they write on affidavits that they do have assets outside of Pakistan, we will interrogate and tax them. But if they deny that, then we can take the help of the UAE government and ask them to take action in accordance with benami properties law," said Bajwa.
He further stated that they have sought support from other agencies including the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
Chief Justice Nisar expressed his dismay over the headway the case has made, saying that individuals hiding assets in foreign countries are entitled to money laundering trials.
The chief of the chartered accountancy firm, Shabbar Zaidi, mentioned two prominent channels that are used for transferring wealth out of the country - Havala and banking routes, adding that, "funds are moved abroad by showing it as agricultural income."
Upon being questioned by Justice Umar Ata Bandial if there was a ban on transferring funds outside the country, Bajwa said, "Only a sum of $10,000 is permitted to be taken outside of Pakistan," adding that a list of 225 Pakistan nationals with properties in London has also been made.
Attorney General Mansoor Ali Khan told the court that the newly elected government led by Prime Minister Imran Khan is "serious about bringing back the money."
"A task force has been formed under the Prime Minister's stewardship. The government wants the apex court to provide guidance in this regard," Khan was quoted as saying by Dawn.