Combatting Money Laundering in Pakistan

(Mehmaiz Ali, Lahore)

In order to grasp how criminals keep abroad a large amount of wealth obtained from illegal resources, it is eminent to note the meaning of money laundering. It is a technique that helps people involved in illegal activities to transform black money into legitimate money by doing some kind of investments that hide the identity of the investor.

Money laundering causes an increase in corruption, bribery, terrorism, drug trafficking and other unlawful activities that ultimately lead a country to the financial crisis. Furthermore, it makes the administration to misjudge the financial system of the country. When the real economic information is not visible to the government, the authorities decide to take actions that fail to improve the country's economy.

There are many countries where criminals hide their money. In the United Arab Emirates' most populous city Dubai, the price of real estate properties is extremely high because the metropolis is among the very successful and favorable international destinations for business and trade in the Gulf region. Not only there is a great price for operating a business from the tall buildings in the city, but the luxurious apartments and palace-like big houses are also very costly. But interestingly, the price seems very attractive to the people who like to convert black money into white by doing some kind of investment. There are many properties in this city that cost around US$100 million and the act of buying them seems mysterious.

According to a report from the Center for Advanced Defense Studies (C4ADS), most of the individuals who purchased these properties made their earnings through illegal battles and some of them also belong to the groups of people that run the businesses of drug trafficking and provide the resources for terrorism. They wanted to invest their money in such a manner that there remains no uncertainty about their illegal activities and so that they could save their cash in a seemingly legitimate way.

Corruption increases the likelihood of major risks and in the end, it causes heavy losses to the national exchequer. But people who do such activities become addicted to money laundering and it becomes hard for them to take the legal route to earn money. The continuous constructional work in the district is also one of the reasons behind the increase in the deed of buying properties in Dubai and the investments of more and more money by such elements. Moreover, the investment in the real estate seems attractive to the people who are involved in money laundering because the local rules in the city are in such a state that the buyer can easily hide his identity.

The people who launder money purchase real estates at the most attractive locations of the city where the millionaires from across the world own properties. These locations include the world's tallest skyscraper Burj Khalifa, Palm Jumeirah — an extensive group of artificial islands — and also numerous other highly expensive areas where the cost of an apartment is in millions of US dollars. Numerous Pakistanis also own valuable properties in Dubai and in many other cities of UAE.

Many people in our society share their disapproval of money laundering. People have now started talking openly about this illegal activity and its consequences. This is because of the power of social media and other such platforms that are raising the awareness about this crime. Everyone even students can contribute to help the government in combating money laundering and corruption. For instance, people can take steps to stop bribery in society by reporting it to the authorities. We should keep in mind that if we as the people of Pakistan do not allow the corruption in our country, it would become hard for the criminals to continue their illegal activities.

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