Property Leaks: Revelation of Nearly $40 Billion Worth of Properties Owned by Non-Residents, Including Pakistanis, in Dubai

A collaborative global investigative journalism project has uncovered properties worth billions of dollars owned by the elite from around the world in the commercial center of Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). The properties include those owned by prominent politicians, globally sanctioned individuals, money launderers, and criminals. Pakistanis rank second in the list, with their properties valued up to $11 billion.

Dubbed as the “Dubai Leaks,” this project is based on information about properties, their ownership, and usage by hundreds of thousands of individuals in Dubai, with data primarily covering the period from 2020 to 2022. However, properties purchased under company names and those in commercial areas are not part of this report’s analysis.

Even bankers and bureaucrats own properties in Dubai.

Details about properties were obtained from an NGO Center for Advanced Defense Studies in Washington, which shared information obtained through the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP). They conducted a six-month investigative project identifying property owners. Reporters from 74 media organizations from 58 countries worked on the investigative project. Recently, several convicted criminals, fugitives, and political figures who bought properties in Dubai were identified through this investigative project. Pakistani news outlets Dawn and Dunya were partners in this project.

The list of individuals included President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari’s three children, Nawaz Sharif’s son Hussain Nawaz, the wife of Federal Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi, PPP leader Sharjeel Memon and his family, Senator Faisal Vawda, Farah Dogar, Sher Afzal Marwat, and four members of the National Assembly from Sindh, as well as six each from Sindh and Balochistan Provincial Assemblies. The list of Pakistanis also includes the late General (R) Pervez Musharraf, former Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, and over a dozen retired generals, a police chief, an ambassador, and a scientist. All these individuals either directly own properties in Dubai or have properties in the name of their children and partners.

The properties purchased by wives are properly declared, says Mohsin Naqvi.

Asif Ali Zardari received a property as a gift in Dubai in 2014. However, when he declared assets in 2018, he had already gifted this property to someone else. In the fake accounts case, Zardari’s partner accused Abdul Ghani Majeed had stated in 2014 that he had gifted a property worth Rs. 329 million to someone as a gift, but he did not disclose the nature of the property or the recipient’s name. However, in March 2014, the JIT revealed the purchase of a penthouse in Dubai. However, the property leaks data has revealed that the aforementioned property was gifted by Abdul Ghani Majeed to Asif Zardari, who then gifted it to his daughter.

Property Leaks has unveiled a trove of data revealing property ownership in Dubai, including Pakistanis, with a total worth estimated at $40 billion.

The Chief Financial Officer of Omni Group, Aslam Masood, and his wife are also shown in the data as owners of multiple properties. When one of them was traced, it was found that it was purchased in 2013 for AED 1,060,626 (PKR 8 crore).

Saharab Densha is also a property owner in Dubai. They purchased a villa in 2015 for AED 1,271,888 (PKR 9.6 crore).

Apart from the late Aslam Masood, all these individuals were also sent questionnaires, but none responded.

“Our assets have been declared previously and are known to the public,” says Shargil Memon.

Altaf Khanani’s network, which was subject to restrictions from the United States for involvement in money laundering, is also included in this list. His son, daughter, brother, and nephew are owners of multiple properties in Dubai. Three of them are facing restrictions.

Another notable figure is Dr. Hameed Mukhtar Shah, a resident doctor in Rawalpindi, who was subjected to US sanctions for involvement in the abduction, detention, and torture of Pakistani workers. He also appears as the owner of multiple properties in this list.

The revelation from Property Leaks also includes the fact that the wife of Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi is a property owner in Dubai. However, Mohsin Naqvi did not disclose this in the nomination papers for the Senate elections held in March last year.

“The timing of Property Leaks is important; no mention of any PTI member,” says Faisal Wada.

According to Property Leaks data, Pakistani citizens are the second-largest buyers of properties in Dubai. 17,000 Pakistani citizens own 23,000 properties in Dubai, estimated at $11 billion.

The data also includes controlling parties for each property, along with identifying information such as date of birth, passport number, and nationality. In some cases, tenants were included in the data instead of owners because this data mostly came from utility companies, along with government documents.

Reporters only included those individuals in the project whose identities could be independently verified through other sources.

The Dubai Land Registry was also used in the project to determine whether the individuals mentioned in the data are still property owners. In some cases, reporters failed to determine the status of ownership because these properties were recently sold. However, additional efforts were made to verify the ownership of individuals who own properties in Dubai, including the use of real estate transaction rental databases.

In a groundbreaking investigative journalism endeavor known as the Dubai Property Leaks, nearly $40 billion worth of properties owned by non-residents, including Pakistanis, has been unveiled. Collaborating across 74 media organizations from 58 countries, this project sheds light on elite property ownership in Dubai, revealing politicians, sanctioned individuals, money launderers, and criminals among the owners. Pakistanis, with properties valued at up to $11 billion, rank prominently in this revelation.

The Dubai Property Leaks project, based on data primarily from 2020 to 2022, exposes property ownership details of hundreds of thousands of individuals in Dubai. Notably, properties owned by companies and those in commercial areas are excluded from the analysis.

Key figures, including Asif Ali Zardari’s children, Hussain Nawaz, the late General Pervez Musharraf, and others, are identified as property owners in Dubai. However, many individuals, including Omni Group’s CFO Aslam Masood and Saharab Densha, remain unresponsive despite being sent questionnaires.

Additionally, Altaf Khanani’s network, involved in money laundering and facing US restrictions, is implicated, along with Dr. Hameed Mukhtar Shah, a sanctioned figure in Rawalpindi.

Despite previous declarations, Mohsin Naqvi’s wife’s ownership of Dubai property was not disclosed in her Senate nomination papers.

Pakistani citizens rank second as buyers of properties in Dubai, with 17,000 citizens owning 23,000 properties, collectively valued at $11 billion.

The Dubai Property Leaks dataset includes detailed information about property owners, sourced from various channels including NGO Center for Advanced Defense Studies and the Dubai Land Registry. Efforts were made to independently verify the identities of individuals included in the dataset.

This comprehensive investigation underscores the significance of the Dubai Property Leaks in uncovering undisclosed property ownership and its implications for global transparency.