Oct 04, 2021

Pandora Papers : Imran Khan pledges to 'investigate wrongdoing'

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan has said his government will investigate citizens linked to a massive leak of hidden global wealth.

The Pandora Papers link hundreds of Pakistanis, including members of Mr Khan's cabinet, to wealth secretly moved through offshore companies.

They rank among history's biggest financial leaks, exposing dealings of global business and political figures.

Mr Khan said he would take action if any wrongdoing was established.

The secret assets were uncovered by a global investigation based on 12 million files leaked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which has been working with more than 140 media organisations worldwide.

According to Pakistani media reports, more than 700 people in the country were named in the papers, among them two members of the cabinet.

According to the leaked documents, Shaukat Tarin, the country's finance minister, and members of his family owned four offshore firms.

Tariq Fawad Malik, a financial adviser who handled the paperwork for the companies, told the ICIJ that the companies were set up by the Tarin family with the intention of investing in a bank with Saudi business connections. But the deal did not proceed, Mr Malik said.

The leaked documents also suggest that Chaudhry Moonis Elahi, the minister for water resources, pulled out of making planned investments through offshore tax havens after he was warned the investment would be reported to the country's tax authorities.

A spokesman for the Elahi family rejected the allegations and said their assets have been declared in accordance with the law.

"Political revenge and misinterpretation of the data have been spread in the documents in bad faith," the spokesperson said.

Mr Khan said in a Twitter post on Monday that he "welcomed" the revelations in the papers. In 2016, before becoming prime minister, he spearheaded opposition demands to open an enquiry after offshore interests of the country's elite were exposed in a previous leak, the Panama papers.

Separately in Pakistan, a row broke out in response to the papers after state television channel PTV wrongly claimed that Junaid Safdar, a grandson of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, was among those named in the leak.

State TV alleged that Mr Safdar had five companies registered in his name - a claim also tweeted out by an assistant to Prime Minister Imran Khan and by another member of the government. A Twitter account also appeared on Sunday called "PandoraLeaks", containing the claims about Mr Safdar, but the account has no connection to the investigation.

The team of journalists working on the Pandora papers investigation in Pakistan confirmed to the BBC that Junaid Safdar had not been named in the documents.

Mr Sharif's party, whose Pakistan Muslim League (N) leads the opposition to the current government, resigned as prime minister in 2017 in the fallout from the Panama Papers.

His son in law, Ali Dar, does feature in the list of names in the Pandora Papers. Mr Dar has denied doing anything illegal and says he is not resident in Pakistan for tax purposes.

According to the ICIJ, more than 600 journalists from 117 countries worked on the Pandora Papers documents. BBC Panorama and the Guardian led the investigation in the UK.

(BBC News)

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