Pakistan’s politicians, officials, military personnel own property worth $12.5 billion: Dubai leaks, report

A recent investigation in the Dubai leaks it has been revealed that Pakistani nationals own a substantial number of properties in Dubai, collectively valued at a high amount of USD 12.5 billion. The leaked data, accessed by an international consortium of journalists, sheds light on the ownership of between 17,000 to 22,000 properties in Dubai by Pakistani citizens, according to The Dawn.

Top Pakistani politicians and officials have been listed in the data who own vast properties in Dubai. Some of these include President Asif Ali Zardari’s children, Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi’s wife, Hussain Nawaz Sharif, late Gen Pervez Musharraf, and former Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz.

The leaks have also highlighted certain loopholes in the property declarations by politicians; for instance, Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi’s wife had not disclosed that he owned a villa in Dubai in his Senate election nomination papers during the February general elections.

The data is primarily from the years 2020 and 2022, and it offers a comprehensive overview of hundreds of thousands of properties in Dubai, including details about their ownership or usage. 

The data reveals that Pakistani nationals are listed as owners of over 17,000 properties in Dubai up to the spring of 2022. However, academic assessments based on the data and additional sources suggest that the actual number of Pakistani property owners in Dubai could be as high as 22,000.

Estimates indicate that the combined value of these residential properties owned by Pakistanis surpassed USD 10 billion at the beginning of 2022. With a notable increase of over 25% in property prices over the last two years, the current value of Pakistani-owned properties in Dubai is believed to exceed USD 12.5 billion.

Responding to these revelations, Malik Amjed Zubair Tiwana, chairman of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), emphasised the importance of ensuring that those eligible to pay taxes in Pakistan on rental income or capital value from these properties fulfil their obligations.

The issue of taxation on overseas assets, especially for Pakistani residents with properties abroad, has sparked discussions on potential tax liabilities and the need for enhanced transparency in tax compliance. While challenges exist in obtaining comprehensive information on the tax status of individuals with overseas assets, officials are making efforts to address potential tax evasion and enforce tax regulations effectively.

The leaked data, while not indicative of financial misconduct on its own, underscores the significant contrast between the economic challenges faced by Pakistan and the substantial investments made by its known nationals in properties overseas.

The information was acquired by the Centre for Advanced Defence Studies (C4ADS), a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit organisation specialising in research on international crime and conflict.

Collaborating with Norwegian financial outlet E24 and the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), the leaked data was part of an investigative project named ‘Dubai Unlocked’, involving 74 partners from 58 countries.

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