Malik Riaz likes to create myths about his own self. One such myth is about his benevolence; that he is a great philanthropist. And the focus is largely on his feeding the poor and the needy.
An aura of avatar, the modern-day Daata, is built around his personality. A touch of divinity is attached to his benevolence. Chaudhary Shujaat Hussain, a friend of Malik from the days of Musharraf, said in his customary humour the other day, “Kyun pichay paya ho gharib day, gharibaan no roti khwanda hai Malik (Why are you against poor Malik, he feeds the poor).
Shujaat declared him a marvel of angelic benevolence, saying, “God is generous to him because he feeds His people.” And many more Malik apologists will say that. That God was also helped by Asif Zardari, Musharraf, Shahbaz Sharif and the Generals in the accumulation of Malik’s wealth is conveniently ignored.
True, Bahria Dastarkhwan is a good scheme that feeds thousands of people. It is amply flashed through advertisements, particularly in Malik Raiz’s own newspaper that every Bahria resident gets by compulsion. So the image of his good persona is forced on Bahria subjects. The spirit of bonhomie and Islamic charity is evoked by showing celebrities eating with the masses. Most of this is fake and hyperbole. Consider.
Malik Riaz claimed in his infamous interview on Dunya TV last year that he feeds 150,000 people annually. The Federal Tax Ombudsman’s One-Man Commission investigated his claim and came out with staggering results. The Commission took the minimum possible price of a meal at Rs 20 and concluded that this alone should cost him Rs 1.09 billion annually. Interestingly, the income showed by him for 2012 is only Rs 76 million. A shortfall of expenditure worth over one billion rupees exists here. He owes the exchequer taxes worth Rs 509 million only on this expense that he has not shown anywhere in his books or tax returns. This evasion is just for one year and for one meal a day. His website claims that he feeds twice a day. If the total evasion of tax from his claim is calculated over the years that the divine avatar had been feeding people, the figure runs into billions of rupees. The fact is that the twin cities could be fed for free thrice a day from the taxes that he owes us based on his Dastarkhwan claims. By the way even his web site claims that he feeds 30000 people.
Malik Riaz also claimed in the same interview that he injected Rs850 million in Shahbaz Sharif’s Ashiyana Housing Scheme. He did not declare this expenditure either in his wealth statement for 2012. He owes another tax penalty of Rs425 million on this count besides facing criminal consequences of this offense.
In his interview to CNN in 2010, Malik Riaz bragged that he would like to donate 75 per cent of his total wealth to the flood victims. When asked to quantify his generous offer, he claimed that his wealth was much more than $2 billion. The equivalent of his personal net worth was quoted by local newspaper at Rs 225 billion. And how much wealth did he claim in his tax returns for the same year 2011? Rs 0.58 billion. On this claim alone, he owes this country taxes, penalty included, worth Rs 112 billion for just one year. This is three times more than Balochistan’s development budget. This means 46 per cent of Pakistan could be developed three times more if only, in the words of Shujaat, ‘Wachara Malak’, pays his taxes.
The Commission also detected three local bank accounts, forget the foreign, that Malik had not declared in his tax returns. His total declared income for three years, 2010 to 2012, is Rs 142 million whereas the deposits in his bank accounts during this period valued a whopping amount of over Rs 12 billion. The Saint had extra Rs 12.58 billion in his accounts that he had not declared. This should incur an additional Rs 6 billion plus in taxes that he owes this nation. All of this excludes the money that he may have kept abroad. A big chance exists that he may have also transferred this abroad since then.
Serious anomalies have been found in his accounts at the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and the Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP). Bahria Town has shown a loss of Rs 78 million at the FBR to avoid any taxation whereas audited accounts given to SECP show a profit before taxation of Rs 688 million. This should also incur on Malik tax consequences worth Rs 530 million.
At least thousands of schools, charity homes and hospitals could be opened up from the taxes stolen by him. Perhaps Shujaat should tell him in private sometime that” “Malik Sahb Choot Katt bolo; banda phass janda hai.”
The Commission finds Bahria’s computation seriously faulty. This may be a one of its kind in the country’s history on this scale of money.
Bahria Town, says its FBR declaration, received advances of Rs83.6 billion from its customers for the sale and construction of its plots/houses between 1998 to 2011. The company recognizes only Rs39.5 billion as sales, and a balance of Rs44.1 billion as liability. The nature of business of the company requires it to compute its income in accordance with international accounting standards.
Bahria, in its audited accounts filed to the FBR, states that it recognizes its advances from customers on the basis of percentage of work done. But it does not disclose the computation of income on the same principle. It gives only a lump sum figure of income in the audited accounts and the income returns. This is illegal, to say the least.
In simple terms, Bahria Town declares net cumulative loss of Rs77,098,088 from 1997-98 to 2011. This excludes the tax year 2010 for which Bahria has not furnished any record despite receiving Rs83.6 billion from customers. Those buying plots in Bahria please note. Remember hundreds of customers, including the more powerful khakis, are languishing in distress because of their money which is stuck in DHA Valley. The bubble might burst at some time. There is nothing in official Bahria coffers. What is going on here, one may ask. Where is the state?
All of this got exposed only after an official inquiry. This begs lots of questions: Where was the Central Bureau of Revenue (CBR)? Is this why we got seven CBRs changed in five years and it’s still working under a temporary charge? Where is it now? The Commission report lies with the CBR catching dust. Why is nobody taking action against this? And where is our media, if I may dare ask. Perhaps eating at Bahria Dastarkhwan?