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ISLAMABAD: Commissioner Benami Zone Islamabad, Muhammad Faisal Mushtaq Dar, informed the business community, on Thursday that the federal government will designate special courts for speedy trial of offences punishable under the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 2017.

Benami Zone Islamabad held a Zoom meeting with the Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) and the Islamabad Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) on Benami Law for creating awareness among the business and trader community.

During his presentation, Faisal Dar informed that the major motives behind Benami Transactions is to evade taxes, hide proceeds of crime, defraud creditors/banks/financial institutions, avoid departmental probe and scrutiny of regulators, avoid certain political and social risks, and bypass land reforms

He said that Benami Zones have launched a drive for awareness for Benami Law and as part of it we have conducted sessions with chambers. Due to coronavirus restrictions the meeting was held online.

Giving practical examples of the Benami Transactions, Dar said that such cases included land acquisition by public office holders/other shadow investors through front men in real estate projects.

In other cases, vehicles/land held/registered in the name of employees, servants, relatives etc.

Moreover, Benami bank accounts opened by businesses in the name of employees for avoiding tax scrutiny and parking of untaxed/illegal/laundered money in purchase of assets through shell companies.

Dar also asked the business community to avert transactions or arrangements in respect of a property carried out or made in fictitious names.

The penalty for Benami Transaction included confiscation of property, imprisonment for one to seven years and fine up to 25 percent of Fair Market Value (FMV) of property in question and penalty for false information is rigorous imprisonment for six months to five years and fine up to 10 percent of fair market value of property in question.

Under the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Rules, 2019, Faisal Dar added that where price of Benami property is Rs2 million and above, the amount of reward is five percent of the price of property; where price of Benami property is Rs2 million to Rs5 million, the reward amount is Rs100,000 plus four percent of amount exceeding Rs2 million, and where the price of Benami property exceeding Rs5 million the reward amount is Rs220,000 plus three percent of amount exceeding Rs5 million.

Presentations were made by Benami Zone Islamabad to the chambers and in the end questions and answers session was conducted.

Following the Benami Law presentation, intelligence and investigation wing of the FBR at Peshawar and Islamabad also made presentation on anti-money laundering Act 2010.

As part of drive for awareness, a similar kind of meeting will be held on 16 August, 2021 with the Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The meeting headed by commissioner Benami Zone Islamabad Muhammad Faisal Mushtaq Dar, Deputy Commissioner Raziulhaq Qureshi, and Assistant Commissioner Mujeeb Alam.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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