The newly-formed Asset Recovery Unit has launched a probe into the properties and assets owned by Pakistanis residing abroad, according to Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Accountability Mirza Shahzad Akbar.
Speaking at a joint news conference with Information Minister Fawad Chaudhary on Friday, Akbar said that members of the unit had been selected. He said the unit had so far received details of more than 10,000 properties, most of which were in Dubai and England.
The PM’s special assistant said the list of asset owners had been divided into two portions: one for politically-exposed persons and the other for other persons. These cases, he added, would be investigated by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).
Akbar said the unit would submit a progress report in the Supreme Court every fortnight.
The attorney general, he said, had prepared a draft of a new law for curbing money laundering and it would be presented before the federal cabinet in its next meeting.
The government, he said, was also working on a treaty with Switzerland for obtaining information about Swiss accounts. He alleged that former finance minister Ishaq Dar was not too keen on the recovery of the money parked in Swiss accounts.
The PM’s special assistant told reporters that former Punjab CM Shehbaz Sharif and his family would be billed for using the prime minister’s helicopter. He said the government would investigate all those whose names had been mentioned in the Panama Papers.
Speaking on the occasion, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said, “Every individual mentioned in the Panama Papers is a criminal.”
Referring to the Supreme Court’s notice to Prime Minister Imran Khan in the Bani Gala encroachment case, Fawad said this was a positive thing that even the prime minister had been made accountable.
He said that notices had also been served on 157 people who did not file tax returns.
He said attracting foreign investment, facilitating businessmen and mounting a crackdown on corruption were central to the government’s economic policy.
Reiterating that Senator Mushahidullah Khan had received medical treatment for which Rs10 million had been paid out of the national airline’s accounts, the information minister said that an inter-departmental inquiry had been launched to probe into the misuse of power by government officials.
(This news/article originally appeared in The Express Tribune on October 6th, 2018)