MQM leader Altaf Hussain slapped with £2M penalty

FILE PHOTO: Founder of Pakistan's MQM party, Altaf Hussain, reacts during an interview at the party's offices in London, Britain October 30, 2016. Picture taken October 30, 2016. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

The British government has fined Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Altaf Hussain for £2 million over income tax evasion and an investigation is already underway to determine the full extent of the MQM leader’s financial matters.

Documents show that Altaf Hussain has been fined for not paying nearly over £2 million to the national exchequer over a period of 20 years for evading taxes over large earnings running into millions of pounds.

The tax investigation is based on income, payments, assets accumulation and National Insurance contributions which were never paid since 1995-2015. The investigation is based on the estimated income and monthly expenditures of the MQM leader and his workers.

At his home in Edgware, Hussain is protected round the clock by three full-time bouncers; two maids; a full-time driver and a cook. His house expenditure alone and settlement payment to his former wife Fiza Gabol and daughter Afzaa is estimated to be around £50,000 per month. This amount doesn’t include the payments made to Hussain’s party full-time staff at the MQM London office for over 20 years.

Dozens of people have worked in a full-time and part-time capacity from the MQM’s International Secretariat.

At its peak, nearly 20 people were on the payroll of the MQM and it’s understood that the recipients were getting cash in hand as many of the recipients also received government benefits for living and income.

According to a source close to Altaf Hussain, the MQM founder has contested the civil proceedings stating that he never earned any money, has never been employed and was not obliged to pay income tax to HMRC.

He has told the investigators that he has been managing his life through donations given by loyalists from Pakistan and abroad and as head of a political party he was entrusted to use those funds to maintain his lifestyle – free of taxes.

Although the MQM leader has contested the fine through his lawyers and the investigation is of a criminal nature but the investigation is so wide-ranging that it has badly impacted the financial situation of the MQM leader. Sources within the MQM have confirmed that the HMRC’s investigation is amongst the main reasons behind Muhammad Anwar and Tariq Mir’s decision to part ways with Hussain.

Both Tariq Mir and Muhammad Anwar dealt with taxation and financial issues for the party for over two years – until their relation broke up around four years ago. Anwar and Tariq Mir are qualified accountants and were responsible for the financial and tax matters of the party and founder Altaf Hussain.

Both Anwar and Tariq provided a base to the MQM founder in 1994 at their accountancy firm in Mill Hill when Altaf left Karachi for London.

Before his colleagues and inner-party circles, Hussain has accused Tariq Mir and Anwar for not guiding him properly and for failing to pay dues to the government while they were the ones responsible for all the financial matters, that is why Altaf Hussain asked his followers to protest outside Tariq Mirs residential address in 2019.

Both Anwar and Mir have been named in the HMRC investigation and Hussain’s lawyers have told the HMRC that the blame for not paying the arrears and dues should rest with them as he personally didn’t handle the financial matters.

The HMRC has not blamed Mir and Anwar of any wrongdoing. Papers seen by this reporter show that in their submission, Mir and Anwar have told the investigators that Hussain didn’t listen to their advice on managing monies, and was the sole person to decide where the funds were to be allocated.

Hussain, Mir and Anwar have been at odds over the transfer of two properties worth nearly £1.5 million to the MQM founder’s name.

Anwar and Mir are titleholders – and legal owners of 221 Whitchurch Lane and 185 Whitchurch lane properties, however, MQM is the beneficial owner of the properties. Although, currently the two properties are occupied by the people close to Altaf Hussain but legally Anwar and Mir are owners of the properties.

When Altaf Hussain pressed them to transfer the properties, Mir and Anwar told him privately first and then through lawyers they that they awaited the final resolution of the HMRC case.

In a legal letter sent to Hussain, Anwar and Mir had written that “the on-going HMRC inquiry” was their concern and that they expected Hussain to discharge all dues, arrears or penalties payable to the HMRC.

Both of them have further said that they will not be transferring the two properties to Altaf Hussain under any circumstances. They have said that one property will be transferred to Dr Imran Farooq’s widow Shumaila Imran Farooq and the other for the relatives of MQM-Pakistan’s martyrs.

The HMRC is currently of the view that paying taxes was the responsibility of Altaf Hussain, not any other individual or anyone else associated with him.

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