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Rs70b money laundering uncovered

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Pakistan’s tax chief on Wednesday disclosed that two importers of solar panels were involved in a Rs70 billion money laundering scheme after an internal investigation revealed the involvement of five commercial banks in transferring funds to destinations like Switzerland and Singapore.

“It is trade-based money laundering,” said Amjad Zubair Tiwana, the Chairman of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), while briefing the Senate Standing Committee on Finance on the alleged money laundering of Rs69.5 billion by two companies.

The money was transferred to countries like Switzerland, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates against imports from China, according to FBR investigations. Over Rs16.5 billion was laundered to the UAE and Singapore alone, as shown in the report. The FBR investigation further revealed that five well-known commercial banks were used for laundering money overseas through heavy cash transactions.

M/s Bright Star transferred Rs47 billion out of Pakistan against solar panel imports and did not file income tax returns. M/s Moonlight Traders transferred Rs23.7 billion overseas despite having a “very weak financial position.”

The FBR worked out the Rs69.5 billion figure based on the scrutiny of the data of 63 importers, although almost the entire amount was transferred by just two companies.

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