Imran Khan Bani Gala Residence may be a benami transaction after all.
Benami [nameless transaction] is a term used to define a transaction which the real beneficiary’s name is kept out of the documentation. Such transactions are usually conducted to evade taxes, and are illegal under several laws. It would seem that Khan has been caught up in the mess he strived so hard to create for the civilian government. Recently, Imran Khan announced that if a case regarding any benami transaction was proved against him, he would quit politics. Imran Khan Bani Gala Residence has now come under the crosshairs following allegations that the land was not a gift as Khan claims, but a benami transaction to avoid taxation.
Khan’s ex-wife, Jemima Khan, hinted that the land where Imran Khan Bani Gala Residence stands was a benami transaction conducted in 2004. She mentioned this benami transaction in a document. This document was obtained by The News. Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf, (PTI) chairman Imran Khan religiously maintained he wasn’t involved in a transaction of the sort. It would seem Khan have developed a habit to forget certain important details. Just a few days ago he revealed that he owned an offshore account when he maintained or the longest of times that he was never involved in any such activities. Similary, the document obtained by The News contains a sworn affidavit by Jemima Khan saying that Bani Gala land, measuring 300 kanals and five marlas was transferred in her name by ex-husband Imran Khan as abenami transaction. In Para 3 of her general power of attorney dated 21 September, 2004, she stated,
The land was transferred in my name through mutations Nos. 7056, 7225, 7361, 7538, by my ex-husband Mr Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi as a ‘benami’ transaction… After the separation/divorce between me and Mr Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi, I did not intend to keep the land with me.
The affidavit does not contain information on any financial transaction that may have followed through. Famous laywer Abid Hasan Manto, on the matter of putting something on record through power of attorney, noted,
When there is a power of attorney and signature of the person concerned, it is prima facie a fact.
Another leading lawyer Athar Minallah said that by declaring that it was a ‘benami’ transaction, Jemima Khan effectively put end to Imran Khan’s claims that he borrowed money from Jemima for purchase of the land and returned the money once he sold the flat in London.
The fact that Imran Khan Bani Gala Residence stands on a land associated with the term ‘benami’ indicates that Khan purchased the land from his own pocket but chose to register it in his wife’s name thereby evading taxes on the 300 kanals of prime property. Declaring that land under a ‘benami’ transaction also means that she could transfer the land back to the real owner without any financial transactions involved.
Through power of attorney, Jemima nominated Saifullah Sarwar Khan Niazi as her representative in Pakistan during the course of transferring the property back to Imran Khan. She was unable to come back to Pakistan at the time. According to her affidavit she stated,
I do hereby appoint Mr. Saifullah Sarwar Khan Niazi son of Imran Ahsan Khan NIazi to appear before the Revenue Office/Registrar and get the land transferred.
Saifullah Khan was reached for comments on this matter to which he conveniently stated that it was hard to remember something that happened years ago therefore neither rejecting nor accepting the claims. Keeping in mind that affidavit that effectively puts the land where Imran Khan Bani Gala Residence stands a benami transaction, Khan’s claim that he was never involved in any such transaction, private or public, stands nullified.
According to legal experts bemami transactions are means to commit fraud on creditors, evade taxes, or to avoid certain political and social risks. At the same time, it provides a massive opportunity to launder money and/or otherwise putting black money to more productive use. PTI spokesperson Shafqat Mahmood made some comments on the matter. He said,
The purchase of the land in Bani Gala was initially paid for by his wife Jemima Khan. Imran Khan paid her back after his London flat was sold.
He further elaborated this by saying something rather difficult to comprehend. He said,
The property was in Jemima Khan’s name and after their divorce, was gifted back to Imran Khan in 2005 by his ex-wife.
So to summarize, the land where Imran Khan Bani Gala Residence sits was paid for by Imran Khan, but was in fact gifted to Imran Khan by Jemima. Some may think that both can’t happen at the same time. When Khan revealed his assets, he declared his Bana Gala estate, covering 300 kanals and 5 marlas, a gifted property (Imran Khan’s tax returns of September 2011) however, at a press conference in December 2011, he stated that he had purchased the land at the rate of PKR 0.145 million per kanal. Thereafter, on several occasions, he maintained that he purchased the land with money borrowed from Jemima, money that he later returned after selling his flat in London.
- The land where Imran Khan Bani Gala Residence sits was exposed as a ‘benami’ transaction by Jemima Khan, IK’s ex-wife, in a sworn affidavit.
- Imran Khan maintains that he was never involved in a benami transaction.
- Imran Khan claims that he borrowed money from Jemima to purchase the land and later returned it after selling his flat in London.
- Imran Khan listed the property as a gift in his tax returns.
- Yet Imran Khan paid for the land at PKR 0.145 million per kanal.
As such, if he paid for the land, he is subject to proper taxation. Listing a property as a gift effectively puts the property as untaxable.
A look at Imran Khan Bani Gala Residence.You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ for more updates. Otherwise fill in the subscription box above, or subscribe to our RSS Feed.