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FBR registers 215 FIRs worth Rs235 billion under AML Law


Image: File

ISLAMABAD: The tax authorities have so far registered 215 FIRs worth Rs235 billion during the last four years under the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Law.

This was revealed during a meeting of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Finance, which met under the chairmanship of Faiz Ullah at the Parliament House on Wednesday.

During the meeting, the parliamentarians inquired about the convictions before a court of law under AML to satisfy the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), on which the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) high-ups replied that the first conviction was achieved in a case based in Peshawar related to Inland Revenue.

In order to implement [the] AML Law, we have registered a total of 215 FIRs against 267 accused persons and attached properties valuing Rs235 billion with the tax amount involvement of Rs76 billion.

The FBR also attached 640 bank accounts. Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU) sent us suspicious transaction reports (STRs) after receiving and analysing the data from the relevant eight to nine agencies and the FBR cannot close down an investigation on its own, FBR’s director general (DG) Intelligence and Investigation of Inland Revenue (IR) Aamir Talpur said.

However, there was no conviction so far on the Customs side. PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal alleged that the laws were bulldozed in haste, as the AML Law was passed to victimise Mian Nawaz Sharif but now this law was being used to harass the businessmen of the country.

Faiz Ullah raised the concerns faced by the business community belonging to Faisalabad on the rampant use of AML laws against them and argued that the tax evasion and money laundering should be dealt with separately.

FBR chairman Dr Ashfaque Ahmed reminded that the AML Law was approved by the Parliament and the tax evasion having linkages of criminal proceeds was handed over into the jurisdiction of the tax machinery.

Despite having limitations of the scarcity of workforce, he said, the revenue board had to perform reluctantly in accordance with the mandate given by the Parliament by making it a law of the land.

Aamir Talpur said that the FMU was the main central point for receiving all kinds of data so after analysing it they prepared suspicious transaction reports and forward them to the relevant law-enforcement agencies.

These STRs were forwarded to the FBR’s Inland Revenues in case of tax-related matters of income tax or sales tax, and in the case of Customs, it was forwarded to the FBR’s Customs Intelligence Wing.

Talpur cited an example that one an 80-year-old person deposited multimillion rupees cash and had declared taxable income of just Rs0.2 million.

The FBR could not make any person innocent, as they were required to collect evidence and present it before the court of law. Then the properties and bank accounts were attached, he added.

The Ministry of Finance also presented the Federal Government Properties Management Bill 2021 before the committee.

The MNAs belonging to PPP Dr Nafisa Shah and PML-N Ahsan Iqbal vehemently opposed it and argued that it would open a new Pandora Box. They asked for incorporating the viewpoint of major stakeholders such as railways, defence, ports and shipping and others because no ministries or departments would be willing to hand over their properties to the newly-established authority.

The new bill proposes establishment of the Property Management Authority, which will be established under the director general (DG) for three years.

Then a board will also be established and this authority will have a mandate to develop properties for commercial purposes. It will have the powers to mortgage, rent, or lease out government-owned properties. However, the committee deferred its approval till the next meeting.

PPP Parliamentarian Dr Nafisa Shah asked for furnishing details of the Saudi loan deposit and oil facility of $4.2 billion for a year in the next meeting and the director general Debt Ministry of Finance requested for an in-camera session for sharing details of the Saudi agreement.

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