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Pandora Papers reveals 700 Pakistanis offshore assets, including Imran Khan’s cabinet members

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) revealed a trove of private financial records of 700 Pakistanis, including cabinet members of Imran Khan’s government in ‘Pandora Papers’.

The ICIJ stated that key members of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s inner circle, including cabinet ministers, their families and major financial backers have secretly owned an array of companies and trusts holding millions of dollars of hidden wealth, reported The Express Tribune.

The ICIJ said that military leaders have also been implicated. The tension between the political parties escalated since the announcement was made that the details about leaked papers would be shared.

Among those whose holdings have been exposed are Imran’s finance minister, Shaukat Fayaz Ahmed Tarin, and his family, and the son of Imran’s former adviser on finance and revenue Waqar Masood Khan. The records also reveal offshore dealings of a top Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) donor, Arif Naqvi, who is facing fraud charges in the United States, reported The Express Tribune.

Journalist Umar Cheema, who along with his colleague from a local newspaper, Fakhar Durrani, was part of the ICIJ investigations revealed that over 700 Pakistanis were named in the Pandora Papers and they secretly moved millions offshore.

He said that it was now up to the authorities concerned to move ahead. Apparently, much of the space in the ICIJ’s story on Pakistan is given to explaining the background and efforts have been made to connect dots.

However, several names of Pakistanis allegedly involved in the scandal came through the Pakistani journalists working with ICIJ when they appeared on television. The ICIJ story doesn’t reveal all the names or provides any link of all the Pakistanis whose names have claimed to be found in the secret documents, reported The Express Tribune.

The revealed names include Tarin, Senator Faisal Vawda, PML-Q’s Moonis Elahi, Ishaq Dar’s son Ali Dar, PPP’s Sharjeel Memon, the brother of Minister for Industries and Production, Khusro Bakhtiar, PTI leader Abdul Aleem Khan, Mir Shakeelur Rehman, Axact CEO Shoaib Sheikh among others, who allegedly have links to offshore companies.

The ICIJ files show that the ruling party’s key political ally, Chaudhry Moonis Elahi, planned to put the proceeds from an allegedly corrupt business deal into a secret trust, concealing them from Pakistan’s tax authorities. They said that Omer Bakhtiar, the brother of Khusro Bakhtiar, transferred a USD 1 million apartment in the Chelsea area of London to his elderly mother through an offshore company in 2018, reported The Express Tribune.

The son of Waqar Masood Khan co-owned a company based in the British Virgin Islands. The report said that the former PTI minister for water resources, Faisal Vawda, set up an offshore company in 2012 to invest in UK properties, ICIJ said.

The ICIJ claimed that Naqvi, the financier and major donor of Imran’s 2013 campaign, owned several offshore companies and another leading businessman and another PTI donor, Tariq Shafi, held USD 215 million through offshore companies.

The Pandora Papers reveal that in 2007, the wife of Gen Shafaatullah Shah, then one of Pakistan’s leading generals and a former aide to President Pervez Musharraf, acquired a USD 1.2 million apartments in London through a discreet offshore transaction.

The Pandora Papers also reveal that Raja Nadir Pervez, a retired army lieutenant colonel and former government minister, owned International Finance and Equipment Ltd, a BVI-registered company, reported The Express Tribune.

Another influential former military leader who shows up in the leaked documents is Maj Gen Nusrat Naeem, the ISI’s onetime Director-General of counterintelligence. He owned a BVI company, Afghan Oil and Gas Ltd, which was registered in 2009, shortly after his retirement.

The ICIJ reiterated that the Pandora Papers reveal that PM Imran has surrounded himself with people – cabinet ministers and their families, donors, and other political allies – who have holdings hidden offshore.

The ICIJ’s investigation is a result of 600 journalists in 117 countries studying for months roughly 11.9 million documents that leaked from the offshore environment, reported The Express Tribune.

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The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.