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Money-laundering inquiry started against Rahat Fateh Ali after violence video

ISLAMABAD (PEN) : The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has started a money-laundering and tax evasion inquiry into renowned singer Rahat Fateh Ali Khan after it was revealed that the musician made nearly Rs8 billion in 12 years for local and international concerts. 

The decision of the tax authorities comes as the global star grapples with the scandal of violent behaviour following the emergence of a sensational video, which shows him repeatedly beating one of his band members allegedly over a missing bottle of liquor. The beating video has shocked tens of millions of people around the world.

Rahat has contributed dozens of songs for Bollywood.

According to reports, the FIA has asked the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to hand over full record of Rahat’s assets and income tax. FIA sources told the media that the premier investigation agency has asked the FBR to hand over full record of the singer’s tax payments for the last 12 years.

This isn’t for the first time that the singer has run into troubles with the FIA and the FBR, but the nature of the allegations is quite serious.

The FIA acted after Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’s former global promoter Salman Ahmed revealed that the singer had made around Rs8 billion in 12 years with him. Salman Ahmed said he has full evidence to show that Rahat earned, through his management company, around Rs8 billion (over $22 million from international tours and over Rs1.3 billion from concerts in Pakistan).

Salman Ahmed said he was willing to hand over full data to the FIA and the FBR, including audit and money trail.

FBR sources have said that the singer’s tax payment record doesn’t match even remotely with the singer’s income.

Salman Ahmed’s company managed Rahat for around 12 years, and he spoke out about the singer’s earnings only after Rahat made allegations of wrongdoing against Salman Ahmed’s management company.

At a Lahore press conference, Rahat Fateh Ali announced that he will be managed in the future by his wife and other family members, announcing to part ways with his previous management company spearheaded by globally acclaimed music and concert producer Salman Ahmed.

Khan announced that his Pakistan company RFAK will merge into NRK, which is being managed by his wife Nida Rahat, her brother Baqa Burki, who runs a truck business in US, and in Pakistan by his cousin, Maroof Ali Khan, who previously was alleged in 2014 by Rahat to have stolen over $1.2 million from him, Asher Anwar and Raja Umair Hussain.

Rahat Fateh Ali Khan alleged at the same press conference that “previously payments were made to the company without my knowledge by the clients and some clients remain trapped. I don’t want the repeat of this episode, so make payments only when I have personally signed on the receiving”.

Salman Ahmed hit back, rejecting all allegations.

Salman Ahmed said: “Only 5 days before the press conference the maestro had asked me to meet him and finalise his UK tour and other dates which he had committed with me. In 12 years I did over $USD 22 million worth of international business with him and local business of over PKR 1.2 billion plus. Beyond this I was part of his personal matters and I managed Rahat’s three marriages and children from all three to his business affairs. I am disappointed in the baseless allegations. I had a legal contract with him and we used to take money on his behalf. I have paperwork for every cent he has taken and now he can justify to the authorities for all the taxes he has paid or not paid in lieu of his huge revenue stream. I am happy to give all paperwork to the FBR and the FIA.”

Rahat has a history of run-ins with the FIA and the FBR over tax issues. In July 2022, the FBR imposed a Rs42.3 million tax liability on Rahat Fateh Ali Khan over undisclosed bank accounts. In 2020, Rahat the FBR had launched a probe into income generated from Khan’s concerts abroad. In 2017, Khan’s bank accounts were seized over evasion of tax. At the time, the FBR had maintained that action was taken due to non-payment of income tax worth more than Rs3 million in 2015. In 2011, Khan was called to the Lahore Regional Tax Office after his return from a foreign tour and informed by members of the FBR that he had not paid his taxes for the past five years despite the board’s repeated notifications. Khan had pleaded ignorance of Pakistani tax laws and procedures and promised to file tax returns on time henceforth.

In April 2021, the musician and qawwal paid Rs 300,000 in taxes to the FBR after getting a notice over his estimated income for the year 2022. The FIA source said that in the same years Rahat earned over $3.5 million from international concerts but paid just about Rs 300,000 in taxes. The FIA source said full details of the singer’s income and tax evasion will be made public before the court in dure course.
In June 2016, the FBR sent a notice to Rahat claiming that Rahat had earned millions of Rupees by performing in India, United States, and in the UK in 2013 but his income statement doesn’t provide all the details leaving a question mark over his tax returns.

In 2011, Rahat was detained for $124,000 in cash at New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International airport. His manager Maroof Ali was also detained by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI). The DRI officials informed that the foreign currency was not declared to the Customs officials after the immigration checks. Khan and his troupe were on their way back to Lahore via Dubai. Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Maroof Ali were each fined £20,000 for breaking foreign exchange rules. They were later released, however, the money was confiscated.

Two months ago, the US embassy denied visa to Rahat over non-payment of taxes in the US from 2015 to 2023. The singer was given visa for a year after the undertaking that he will be obliged to pay his taxes for the last ten years during this one-year stay.

Rahat was represented for over a decade by Salman Ahmed, then residing in London who was Rahat’s global promoter for 12 years. Together, Rahat and Salman produced magical music, making Rahat amongst the most sought-after world artists. Before Salman Ahmed started managing Rahat, the artist was well known in Pakistan because of his strong vocal skills but Ahmed turned around everything for the artist and had made him a household name in millions of homes in South Asia and beyond. The University of Oxford awarded the music doctorate degree to Khan who had thanked Salman Ahmed for his efforts.

The FIA investigates transnational organized crime, trafficking in persons, smuggling of migrants, cybercrimes, money laundering, terrorism financing, intellectual .property rights and electronic & physical bank frauds. It is a federal anti-corruption body also to investigate federal employees involved in embezzlement and fraud.