Sunday Oct 03 2021
Web Desk

PM Imran Khan vows to investigate 'all citizens' named in Pandora Papers

Web Desk
Prime Minister Imran Khan. — Photo courtesy Twitter/PTI
Prime Minister Imran Khan. — Photo courtesy Twitter/PTI

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday vowed to investigate "all citizens" named in the Pandora Papers leaks.

"If any wrongdoing is established we will take appropriate action," the prime minister said.

The premier welcomed the findings, "exposing the ill-gotten wealth of elites, accumulated through tax evasion and corruption and laundered out to financial 'havens'." 

He said that the UN SG's Panel FACTI has calculated a staggering $7 trillion in stolen assets parked in largely offshore tax havens.

The prime minister went on to state that his "over-two decades struggle" was based on the belief that it is not countries that are poor, but corruption that causes poverty "because money is diverted from being invested in our people". 

"Also, this resource-theft causes devaluation, leading to thousands of poverty-related deaths," he said.

Citing the example of the East India Company, he said it "plundered the wealth of India", and that now "ruling elites of developing world are doing the same". 

"Unfortunately, the rich states are neither interested in preventing this large-scale plunder nor in repatriating this looted money," PM Imran Khan said.

Vowing to investigate and taking action against all those named in the probe, he called on the international community to treat this "grave injustice" with the same urgency as the climate change crisis.

"If unchecked, inequalities between rich and poor states will increase as poverty rises in the latter. This in turn will lead to a flood of economic migration from the poor to the rich states, causing further economic and social instability across the globe," he stressed.

Who has been named in the Pandora Papers leaks?

The Pandora Papers, an investigation uncovering financial secrets held by high-profile individuals across the world, includes the names of more than 700 Pakistanis, it has emerged.

Most prominently these include Minister for Finance Shaukat Tarin, Minister for Water Resources Moonis Elahi; Senator Faisal Vawda; Ishaq Dar’s son, Ali Dar; PPP’s Sharjeel Memon, the family of Minister for Industries and Production Khusro Bakhtiar; PTI leader Abdul Aleem Khan; among others, with alleged links to offshore companies.

Some retired army officials, businessmen — including Axact’s CEO Shoaib Sheikh — and media company owners, have also been named in the leaks.

It must be noted that establishing and declaring an offshore company, which is not involved in any illegal practices, is permissible by law.

A probe bigger than Panama Papers

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 financial secrets of more leaders and public officials than the Panama Papers did and provide 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.

From Pakistan, there were more than 400 individuals who surfaced in the Panama Papers.