Amnesty : amnesty doesn’t apply to money laundering New info puzzles investigators

KARACHI: Various government quarters and leading investigating agencies, including the Federal Investigation Agency and the Federal Board of Revenue, are faced with a puzzling situation following the probe into the Omni Group’s assets revealed that the Group had already sought and secured amnesty through voluntary declaration in regards to billions of rupees parked in the 29 bank accounts exposed so far.
The director general of the FIA has also confirmed the group’s action with regards to billions of rupees having been secured through the government’s amnesty policy. The investigators involved with the case are puzzled why none of the Omni Group owners, who are in the FIA custody, revealed this fact earlier.
The Group applied for the amnesty from Dubai and ‘whitened’ the money by paying the required amount. When the FIA contacted the FBR for details of the issue, it was told that beneficiaries of amnesty can’t be disclosed under the law. However, the Supreme Court can seek any details.
Legal experts and former officers of the FIA are of the view that this move will not affect the case as amnesty doesn’t apply to money laundering. They opine that it is yet to be ascertained under what head the FBR allowed amnesty to the Omni Group. However, they agree to the FBR’s point of view that it is bound to keep the amnesty details secret. They said the proposed ordinance of 2018 has two parts, the Voluntary Declaration of Domestic Assets Ordinance and Foreign Assets (Declaration and Repatriation) Ordinance 2018. Two other relevant ordinances are Income Tax (Amendment) Ordinance 2018, and Economic Reforms (amendment) Ordinance 2018. The scheme doesn’t apply to public office-holders.
Haroon Akhtar, former adviser to prime minister had stated in April, 2018 that the secrecy clauses of the amnesty scheme come under the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) rules. He, however, clarified that amnesty is not given on corruption money, on narcotics or terror financing.
Director General FIA Bashir Memon, when contacted, told this correspondent that he is aware of the fact that the lawyer for the FIA had told the court that Omni Group has obtained amnesty on 29 accounts. It remains to be seen if the revelation by Omni Group will be taken as a confession as it has been proved that the money of benamis, government officials, contractors and public representatives landed in the accounts of Omni Group.