Parliamentary committee fails to make headway in Dubai real-estate investment probe

ISLAMABAD: A special parliamentary committee established to investigate investment of $8b in Dubai’s real estate by Pakistani’s failed to gather any information, as its one-month tenure expires Thursday.

The committee’s work was marred by vested interests joining hands to ensure the information regarding investment in Dubai’s real estate by Pakistani’s remained inaccessible from overseas, reported a local newspaper.

The committee’s secretary Amir Omar Malik was said to have removed data regarding the decision to involve National Accountability Bureau to fetch information from Dubai from official files. It is highly probable, that recordings of the committee proceedings which are legally mandated to be maintained may have also been destroyed.

Also, a NAB official, who had voiced hope of obtaining information from Dubai, wasn’t permitted to attend the parliamentary committee meeting on Wednesday, which was co-incidentally also its last session before its term expires on Thursday.

Instead a junior NAB officer attended the meeting and said Faheem Qureshi, head of NAB’s International Cooperation Wing, was stuck in traffic and couldn’t reach office. Asad Umar, one of the committee’s member said he would wait for Qureshi, but the junior officer replied that he wasn’t in the country as he was travelling to Austria.

No action on this misstatement was taken by the committee’s chairperson, Shezra Mansab Khan. The meeting was attended by PML-N’s MNA Qaiser Ahmed Sheikh, who wasn’t mandated to be part of it and is Chairman of NA Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue.

As the proceedings initiated on Wednesday, Asad Umar disclosed Secretary Committee didn’t make the decision to seek NAB’s help as part of official minutes. Secretary Committee Amir Omar said the chairperson hadn’t given an endorsement in this regard, which was later confirmed by PML-N’s Shezra Mansab.

When Asad Umar requested committee secretary to play recording of previous meeting, Amir Omar claimed no recording took place due to faulty equipment. Asad Umar it was legally binding on the official to record the proceedings.

Umar said many influential people, including politicians and bureaucrats held some sort of interest in Dubai’s real estate.

Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) apprised the special panel that Pakistani’s who owned assets abroad were required to reveal them before State Bank of Pakistan as per Foreign Assets Declaration Act 1972.

SBP communicated to FIA that not a single Pakistani had declared their offshore assets, said Zaheer Ahmed Director Economic Crime Wing, FIA. He added a list of 100 Pakistani’s who owned properties in Dubai had been forwarded to UAE authorities but hadn’t received any reply in this regard.

The committee directed the FIA to share the list with FBR as well.

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