ISLAMABAD: The Tehreek-e-Insaf has again clarified a report in The News on May 27 titled “Why Jemima Khan did a Benami transaction with Imran”.
PTI Information Secretary, Shafqat Mahmood, said in a statement Mr Umar Cheema has tried to sensationalise a very simple transaction regarding the land where Mr Imran Khan has built a house in the Bani Gala suburb of Islamabad.
Shafqat said: “His argument that this land was purchased through a ‘Benami transaction’ is entirely based on a power of attorney that Ms Jemima Khan had given in favour of Saifullah Niazi.
In this document the person drafting it had erroneously used the words “Benami transaction” and Jemima Khan had signed it as she was not supposed to know what this term means or indeed intricacies of law.
This was an error on the part of the drafter, as it will be demonstrated below, on which an entire house of cards has been built by Mr Cheema.“First, let us see what a ‘Benami transaction’ is? A ‘Benami’ transaction has been described in Aggarwal’s Law of Benami Transactions (Pakistani Edition 2002) by Mr M. Farani as one in which the real owner of property allows it (the property) to appear in the name of an ostensible owner under a sort of secret trust.
In plain English this means that person A buys a property with his or her own money but for a variety of reasons shows person B as the owner. This is in sum a Benami transaction. It also follows that if person A has bought the property and put it in his or her own name, then it is not a Benami transaction.
Now let us look at the facts in the case of Mr Imran Khan and Jemima Khan, which were indeed conveyed to Mr Cheema but did not register adequately. The couple were then married and decided to buy the property in Bani Gala. To raise the money for it, Mr Imran Khan put his London flat up for sale.
To finalise the deal in the meantime, Jemima Khan used her own money to buy the property and it was so registered in her name. Thus if we look at the definitions given above, it cannot be described as a Benami Transaction.
When later on Mr Imran Khan was able to sell his London flat and transfer the money through banking channels to Pakistan, he paid Jemima Khan the amount she had spent to buy the property. Before it could be formally transferred in Mr Imran Khan’s name the couple unfortunately divorced and Jemima left for England.
Before leaving she obviously wanted to transfer the property in the name of Imran Khan as she had been paid the amount she had spent on buying it. As this process of transfer would have taken time and she wanted to leave, she gave a power of attorney to Saifullah Niazi to represent her in the legal transfer.
These are the facts. It is obvious that there was nothing Benami about this transaction. These words have been sensationalised only because the person drafting the power of attorney included them by mistake in the document.
To use a clerical error to question a person of Mr Imran Khan’s integrity, may serve someone’s political purpose but has no basis in law or facts. Umar Cheema adds: My report has stated facts only which were sensational. What are these facts? The clarification said the person who drafted Jemima Khan’s Power of Attorney ‘erroneously’ used the term ‘Benami Transaction.’
The author of draft was not a layperson unfamiliar with terms such as “Benami transactions” and their legal implications. The document bears the seals of solicitors who are certified UK lawyers and experts on matters such as property transfers etc.
The document also claims that the property was bought by Imran Khan and transferred in Jemima Khan’s name through a Benami transaction. It contradicts what Imran Khan has been telling the media for a long time that he borrowed money from his ex-wife to buy the land and it was returned after selling his flat in the UK.
He never said this before the PTI was approached for version that the land was registered in Jemima’s name at first. Is it a coincidence? By claiming in the affidavit that the property initially belonged to Imran Khan but transferred in her name raises the questions about the source of money and the legal or otherwise channels used to transfer the money that was used to purchase the property and taxes paid. In case this was also a “clerical error”, evidences should be produced about how the money borrowed from Jemima Khan was channeled from UK to Pakistan to purchase the property as claimed. In case Jemima had this hefty sum in local bank, better if clarified and evidences shared.
The Power of Attorney bears the signature of Jemima Khan who, one assumes, must have read the document before signing it particularly a document that has legal implications. Again, the land transferred back in the name of Imran Khan was based on this document declaring it ‘Benami Transaction’. One may curious to know what land record said whether it was treated as ‘Benami’ being returned to the actual owner who didn’t want to disclose it earlier for any reason.
I have read definition of ‘Benami Transaction’ as defined by the spokesperson. I would request him to read the legal definition. Benami Transaction: Is a transaction where a person buys a property in the name of another person or gratuitously transfers property to another person without an intention to benefit that other person. It defines “Benami Transaction” as the property purchased not in the name of the real beneficiary, but someone who is his representative (Benamidar).”
Why Benami transactions are made: “1) Some people Commit fraud on creditors; 2) The desire to evade tax thereby committing fraud on the state; 3) To avoid certain political and social risks; 4) Provides an opportunity for putting black money in to more productive use.” The spokesman should be mindful of Moonis Elahi’s alleged involvement in NICL case was on the same grounds.
I may also like to explain that when this question was sent to the PTI, the response was a complete denial of the existence of any Benami transaction. It was not said the word ‘Benami Transaction’ has erroneously been used.
Our story was based on a legal document that has not been denied as fake or forged by the PTI. Whether or not the contents including the claim of a Benami transaction was merely a “clerical error” or erroneously mentioned as now claimed by PTI in a document drafted by British solicitors is best left to the judgement of the readers.