Sunday Oct 03 2021
Web Desk

Pandora Papers: Pakistani politicians, businessmen named in probe issue clarifications

Web Desk
Picture collage showing PTIs Abdul Aleem Khan, Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin, and Ali Dar, the son of PML-N leader Ishaq Dar. Photos: Twitter/ File.
Picture collage showing PTI's Abdul Aleem Khan, Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin, and Ali Dar, the son of PML-N leader Ishaq Dar. Photos: Twitter/ File.

After Pandora Papers, an investigation uncovering financial secrets held by high-profile individuals across the world, exposed the names of more than than 700 Pakistanis, politicians included in the probe rushed to issue clarifications. 

On Sunday, the Pandora Papers revealed that several Pakistani politicians — including Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin, Minister for Water Resources Moonis Elahi, PTI's Senator Faisal Vawda, son of PML-N's Ishaq Dar, PPP’s Sharjeel Memon, the family of Minister for Industries and Production Khusro Bakhtiar, and PTI leader Abdul Aleem Khan, among others — have alleged links to offshore companies.

Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Shaukat Tarin took to Twitter and issued a clarification about his alleged offshore companies.

"In 2014, M E Developers LLC of Tariq bin Laden wanted to invest in Silkbank. They got in-principal approval from the SBP and then opened four offshore accounts to raise structured finance to raise funds," wrote Tarin. 

"Before anything could happen there was a law and order situation in Pakistan and bin Laden decided not to invest. No bank accounts were opened, no transactions took place, and the companies stood closed," he wrote.

Reacting to the investigative report, PTI's Abdul Aleem Khan took to Twitter and said that he has nothing to hide as he has declared all his assets to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).

"Alhamdulillah, nothing to hide, This company was declared in all my assets declarations in FBR and election commission for last 15 years," he tweeted. 

Ali Dar — the son of PML-N's Ishaq Dar — also took to Twitter and shared the answers he had sent to senior investigative journalist Umar Cheema, who was part of the investigative team of Pandora Papers.

"When Umar Cheema had sent me an email in relation to the Pandora Papers investigation, I had replied with a detailed account of companies, which were perfectly legal and were made for legal purposes. I have settled in the UAE since graduation," he wrote.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan welcomed the Pandora Papers and said that his government will "will investigate all our citizens mentioned in the Pandora Papers."

"If any wrongdoing is established, we will take appropriate action. I call on the international community to treat this grave injustice as similar to the climate change crisis," he tweeted.

The probe

The International Consortium of Investigative (ICIJ) received more than 11.9 million documents containing 2.94 terabytes worth of confidential information from service providers who helped set up and manage offshore companies and trusts in tax havens around the world.

The ICIJ shared the data with 150 media organisations and has led the broadest collaboration in journalism history. It took the ICIJ almost two years to organise the investigation that involved more than 600 journalists in 117 countries, making it the biggest-ever journalism partnership.

By comparison, for the Panama Papers, almost 400 journalists from 80 countries participated in the investigation.

The News was the only ICIJ partner from Pakistan on both occasions. In addition, The News also partnered with the ICIJ in the Bahamas leak and the Paradise Papers.

The Pandora Papers leak uncovers the financial secrets of more leaders and public officials than the Panama Papers did and provides more than twice as much information about the ownership of offshore companies.

The Panama Papers were based on the data of a Panama-based law firm called Mossack Fonseca that revealed offshore holdings of 140 politicians, public offshore and sports stars. Those documents were obtained by the German newspaper, Süddeutsche Zeitung, which contained records dating back 40 years.

By comparison, the Pandora Papers investigation is bigger in size and revelations about politicians and public officials are also far more than what previously came to public attention.