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Global Investigation Exposes Dubai Property Holdings of Elite, Unveiling a $11 Billion Pakistani Stake

A global collaborative investigative journalism project has revealed the ownership of properties of the global elite in Dubai. The list includes political figures, globally sanctioned individuals, alleged money launderers, and criminals. Pakistanis have also been identified on the list, with their combined property value estimated at around $11 billion.

The project — ‘Dubai Unlocked’ — is based on data providing a detailed overview of hundreds of thousands of properties in Dubai and information about their ownership or usage, largely from 2020 and 2022. Properties purchased in the name of companies and those in commercial areas are not part of this analysis.

The data was obtained by the Centre for Advanced Defence Studies (C4ADS), a non-profit organization based in Washington, DC. It was then shared with Norwegian financial outlet E24 and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), which coordinated a six-month investigative project with reporters from 74 media outlets in 58 countries. This effort uncovered scores of convicted criminals, fugitives, and political figures who have recently owned at least one piece of real estate in Dubai.

Among the Pakistanis listed in the Property Leaks are President Asif Ali Zardari’s three children, Hussain Nawaz Sharif, Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi’s wife, Sharjeel Memon and family members, Senator Faisal Vawda, Farah Gogi, Sher Afzal Marwat, four MNAs, and half a dozen MPAs from the Sindh and Balochistan assemblies. The list also features the late Gen Pervez Musharraf, former Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, and more than a dozen retired generals, as well as a police chief, an ambassador, and a scientist – all of whom owned properties either directly or through their spouses and children.

In 2014, President Asif Ali Zardari received foreign property as a gift. By the time he declared it in 2018, he had gifted it to someone else. A business tycoon co-accused with Zardari in the fake accounts case, Abdul Ghani Majid, declared in his wealth statement that he had granted a gift of Rs329m but did not specify its type or the recipient. The JIT later found a memo about the purchase in March 2014 of a penthouse in Dubai, which Ghani had gifted to Zardari, who then gifted it to his daughter.

The Chief Financial Officer of Omni Group, Aslam Masood, and his wife are also listed as owners of several properties. One property was purchased in March 2013 for AED1,060,626 (Rs80m). Similarly, Sohrab Dinshaw owns a villa purchased in 2015 for AED 1,271,888 (Rs96m).

The report also mentions the Altaf Khanani network, sanctioned by the US for money laundering, with several properties owned by Khanani’s family members. Another notable figure is Hamid Mukhtar Shah, a physician sanctioned by the US for involvement in organ trafficking, who owns numerous properties.

Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi’s wife is listed as owning a property in Dubai that he did not declare in his Senate nomination papers. She clarified that she purchased another property in Dubai in January while Naqvi was interim Chief Minister of Punjab, intending to declare it in the current year’s tax declarations.

According to the data, Indians top the list of foreign property owners in Dubai, followed by Pakistanis. Pakistani owners hold 23,000 residential properties, with an average value per owner of $0.41 million (Rs11.40m).

The project aimed to highlight public interest by revealing property owners convicted or accused of crimes, facing sanctions, or those public officials and associates accused of corruption who have concealed their properties.

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I am an accomplished graduate of Strategic Studies, driven by a fervent dedication to comprehending global affairs and devising impactful strategies. Equipped with a comprehensive skill set encompassing research, critical thinking, and persuasive communication, I possess a distinctive viewpoint and an unwavering commitment to fostering inclusive decision-making processes. As a versatile individual, I excel in collaborating with diverse groups in various settings, leveraging my strong interpersonal abilities to adapt seamlessly to new environments and surmount any challenges that arise. With a passion for contributing to strategic initiatives, I am eager to leverage my expertise and drive to effect positive change within the field.

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