Zardari, Sharif, military generals: Dubai leaks expose billions in property owned by Pakistan’s elite

NEW DELHI: The Dubai Property Leaks have exposed a significant number of prominent Pakistanis who own high-end properties in Dubai. The leaked data, part of the OCCRP’s Dubai Unlocked project, reveals details of individuals from various sectors like politics, military, banking, and bureaucracy. The leak, which has sent shockwaves through Pakistan, involves over 23,000 properties listed as belonging to Pakistani nationals, as detailed in the “Dubai Unlocked” investigation conducted by global media outlets.
The investigation, conducted by the Centre for Advanced Defence Studies (C4ADS) and shared with global media outlets, sheds light on hundreds of thousands of properties in Dubai, focusing on ownership details.
Among the notable Pakistanis listed in the Property Leaks are President Asif Ali Zardari’s children, Hussain Nawaz Sharif, Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi’s wife, Sharjeel Memon, Senator Faisal Vawda, and several lawmakers from Sindh and Balochistan assemblies. The list also includes late Gen Pervez Musharraf, former prime minister Shaukat Aziz, retired generals, a police chief, an ambassador, and a scientist, all of whom have owned properties directly or through their spouses and children.
Furthermore, the leaks highlight discrepancies in property declarations, such as Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi’s wife owning a villa in Dubai that was not disclosed in his Senate election nomination papers. The investigation also reveals the involvement of individuals like the Altaf Khanani network, sanctioned for money laundering, and Hamid Mukhtar Shah, a physician involved in criminal activities, as property owners in Dubai.
The data reveals properties ranging from studio apartments to lavish six-bedroom villas owned by Pakistan’s elite, including political, military, and business figures, across premium locations like Dubai Marina, Emirates Hills, and Palm Jumeirah.
The leaked data provides insights into the offshore real estate wealth of Pakistanis, with over 23,000 properties listed as belonging to Pakistani nationals up to the spring of 2022. The data, obtained by C4ADS and shared with media outlets worldwide, does not inherently indicate financial crimes but offers a detailed snapshot of Pakistani investments in Dubai properties during a specific period.
The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) of Pakistan views this revelation as a crucial step toward tackling tax evasion. “If we have the data you are talking about, as well as the information on residence status, we will make sure those who are eligible to pay tax in Pakistan on rental income or capital value are doing so,” Malik Amjed Zubair Tiwana, chairman of the FBR, told Dawn. Despite efforts to regulate and recover undeclared assets, responses from Dubai have been limited, due to lack of geopolitical leverage and political stonewalling.
The investigation underscores the challenges faced by Pakistan in bringing undeclared assets into the tax net, with Dubai authorities reluctant to share information on Pakistani citizens owning assets in the emirate. The leaked data, a result of multiple leaks and extensive verification by journalists, reveals a complex web of property ownership involving Pakistan’s political, media, military, and business elite.


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