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Benami properties: SECP mulls strategy to conduct raids, issues search and seizure rules

Benami properties: SECP mulls strategy to conduct raids, issues search and seizure rules
July 18, 2019
ISLAMABAD (92 News) – The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) mulls strategy for crackdown and issues search and seizure rules after government has already empowered it to conduct raids onto the offices and residences of bemani (unnamed) property owners and tax evaders. The commission issued its Search and Seizure Rules 2019 that are part of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) requirements to document the economy and expand Pakistan's tax base. According to a notification, the SCEP will be able to conduct raids at the offices and residences of investors and businessmen. The prime objective is to detect the ownership and tax mis-declaration. According to the rules, the investigating officer may enter any property after obtaining requisite permission. The officer is required to prepare an inventory of seized documents, electronic evidence in the presence of the occupant. Also required is a seizure memo on the spot and a case diary which records all steps taken by the investigation team. The search needs to be carried out in the presence of two witnesses who can be any incumbent of the property and in their absence, any SECP officer other than a member of the investigation team can be a witness. The SECP officer can take local police assistance for affecting the search and may call other administration agencies for assistance. An officer equal to magistrate rank can accompany the raiding team. On July 5, the federal government had authorized the SECP to conduct raids onto the premises of people having benami (unnamed) properties. The SECP officials were empowered to seize the necessary records during raids, says a notification issued by the government today. Officials will also have authority to enter into any building or office and confiscate documents, laptops, cell phones and other material. This is first time in the history of Pakistan that any government has allowed relevant authorities to begin extensive crackdown against the owners of bnami properties in the country. The latest development came as the federal cabinet has approved the SECP Seize and Search Rules 2019. Earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan said that the government had given ample opportunity to declare their assets in the Assets Declaration Scheme – now it would take action without any bias. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4AK5n-NQBY