FBR Issues Guidelines for Forfeiting Assets Acquired Through Smuggling to the Federal Govt

The movable and immovable properties suspected of having been acquired through proceeds of smuggling would be forfeited to the Federal Government and publicly auctioned, according to the new rules of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).

The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has issued a detailed procedure for the customs officials for forfeiting assets to the Federal Government suspected to have been acquired from illegal money earned through smuggling.

In November 2020, the FBR had issued the draft Forfeiture of Property Rules. Now, the final rules have been notified here on Thursday.

Under the Forfeiture of Property Rules 2021, customs officials have been granted the necessary powers under the Customs Act for dealing with such assets made from the smuggling proceeds. In this regard, “assets” means property, both movable and immovable, owned, controlled or belonging to a person convicted on the charges of smuggling, whether directly or indirectly, or in the name of his spouse or relatives or associates inside and outside Pakistan.


FBR Changes Tax on Capital Gains on Disposal of Immovable Property

As per new rules, it shall not be lawful for any person to hold assets acquired through proceeds of smuggling either directly in his own name or indirectly in the name of any relative or associate. Where a person is found to hold any assets in contravention of the provisions of the Customs Act, 1969, such assets shall be liable to be forfeited to the Federal Government in accordance with the provisions of the Customs Act.

The property so forfeited shall be disposed of by the Administrator or any other Customs officer authorized by Collector after completion of legal formalities. The movable property shall be disposed of through public auction and shall be governed by Chapter V (Auction), of the Customs Rules, 2001 and the disposal of immovable property shall be governed by Chapter XI (Recovery of Arrears), Part III and Part IV, of the Customs Rules, 2001.

During the investigation or trial of an offense of smuggling, the Collector or an officer authorized on this behalf under section 163 of the Customs Act, 1969 shall trace and identify assets for the purpose of forfeiture by the Special Judge, regarding which suspicion arises of having been acquired by any person through proceeds of smuggling and holds them either directly in his name or indirectly in the name of his relatives or associates.

This may include inquiry, investigation in respect of any premises, place, property, conveyance, documents, and books of accounts.

The rules said that whenever an Officer of Customs has reasons to believe that within the limits of his jurisdiction any person, either in his own name or on behalf of any relative or associate holds any assets, which are reasonably suspected of having been acquired through proceeds of smuggling, the officer of customs after obtaining approval from Collector may freeze such assets for fifteen days and before the expiry of fifteen days the freezing order shall be submitted to the Court of the Special Judge Customs with the grounds on which such freezing was carried out and further continuation of the freezing or forfeiture shall so be decided by the Court.

Where the Special Judge trying an offense of smuggling is satisfied that there appear reasonable grounds that the accused has committed such an offense, he may order the freezing of assets of the accused, his relatives and associates, FBR stated.


Money Stashed Abroad by Pakistanis Will be Seized Soon

The Collector shall have the power to require any officer or authority of the Federal Government including civil armed forces and Federal Investigation Agency or a Provincial Government including Police and Revenue Authorities or a local authority or any financial institution to furnish any information in relation to such persons, property, assets or other matters as are, in his opinion, useful.

Whereby virtue of an order made by the Special Judge less than full of any asset stands forfeited to the Federal Government and such asset is indivisible or cannot be easily separated from the rest without substantially impairing the value of the asset, the person holding it prior to such declaration shall be given, by the Special Judge, an option to pay in lieu of forfeiture of that part of the asset a fine equal to the market value of the asset prevalent at the time of its forfeiture.

Where such person pays the fine in lieu of forfeiture, within such time as may be allowed to him, the Judge may, by order, revoke the declaration of forfeiture made under rule 817 and thereupon such asset shall stand released, rules added.

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