04 Jan 2021
The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has begun investigating incumbent National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) President, Arif Usmani, for his alleged offshore assets worth billions of rupees.
Sources privy to the information told Profit that the incumbent NBP president has stashed assets worth $11,481,440, equivalent to Rs1.8 billion, in Citi Trust, Jersey which is known to be a haven for illicit money.
The tax department is probing Usmani on concealment of offshore accounts as he did not mention the details while filing tax returns for 2008 to 2012 when he was resident in Pakistan or in the tax returns for the year 2018.
In addition, sources said that Arif Usmani was also issued an overseas Pakistani card in February 2012, valid till June 2019, when his CNIC was renewed.
It is pertinent to mention here that according to the law, every Pakistani having foreign income above $10,000 or having foreign assets with a value of $100,000 had to furnish a statement of foreign income and assets under the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001.
Further, concealment of offshore assets also falls under Section 3 (ii) of the Anti Money Laundering Act 2010 states that “a person shall be guilty of an offence of money laundering, if the person conceals or disguises the true nature, origin, location, disposition, movement or ownership of property, knowing or having reason to believe that such property is proceeds of crime”.
Sources said that Usmani, in response to a show-cause notice in his tax returns for 2018, had said that he was a non-resident in 2018 and all offshore assets he earned were during his non-residency abroad.
However, sources said that the tax officials were not satisfied with his statement and he was asked to furnish evidence of investment in Citi Trust’s offshore bank account, along with complete bank statements reflecting dates when the amounts were credited.
The Pakistan Tehreek Insaf (PTI) government had appointed Arif Usmani as President NBP in February 2019 for three years. Soon after taking over the charge of the bank, Usmani started hiring a large number of contractual employees in various branches of the bank in and abroad on very hefty salaries, which cost the NBP an additional Rs2.9 billion besides the profit of the bank is from treasury bills and all major functions of the group are in huge losses as per the September 2020 figures.
It is pertinent to mention here that the National Assembly (NA) finance committee has also directed the NBP to furnish appointments details as contractual appointments are against Islamabad High Court (IHC) and Supreme Court (SC) verdicts.
By Shahzad Paracha, Profit, 3 January 2021
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