Pandora Papers: Shaukat Tarin, Moonis Elahi among 700 Pakistanis named in leaks

Raba NoorWeb Editor

03rd Oct, 2021. 11:15 pm

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) exposed “Pandora Papers” — major international research into the financial secrets held by high-profile individuals around the world on Sunday.

The name includes in the leaks are Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin, Senator Faisal Vawda, PML-Q leader Chaudhry Moonis Elahi, Ishaq Dar’s son, PPP’s Sharjeel Memon, the family of Minister for Industries and Production Khusro Bakhtiar, PTI leader Abdul Aleem Khan, among 700 others, among those with alleged links to offshore companies.

According to the reports, more than 700 Pakistanis have also been named in the leaks.

From Pakistan, investigative journalists Umar Cheema and Fakhar Durrani were part of the research and spoke about the findings to the media.

The consortium released a report on the Pandora Papers titled “Prime Minister Imran Khan promised ‘new Pakistan’ but members of his inner circle secretly moved millions offshore.”

According to the report, leaked documents revealed that “key members” of Prime Minister Imran’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”.

“Military leaders have been implicated as well,” it said, clarifying that the documents contained “no suggestion” that Imran himself owned offshore companies.

“The records also reveal the offshore dealings of a top PTI donor, Arif Naqvi, who is facing fraud charges in the United States,” the ICIJ said.

According to the investigation’s findings, Finance Minister Tarin and his family members own four offshore companies. It quoted Tariq Fawad Malik, a financial consultant who handled the paperwork for the companies, as saying that they were set up as part of the Tarin family’s intended investment in a bank with a Saudi business.

“As a mandatory prerequisite by [the] regulator, we engaged with the Central Bank of Pakistan to obtain their ’in-principle’ approval for the said strategic investment,” Malik said. The deal did not proceed.

Tarin didn’t respond to ICIJ’s questions, but in a statement issued today, he said: “The off-shore companies mentioned were incorporated as part of the fundraising process for my Bank.”

Meanwhile, Omer Bakhtiar, the brother of federal industries minister Khusro Bakhtiar, transferred a $1 million apartment in London’s Chelsea area to his elderly mother through an offshore company in 2018, according to the ICIJ.

In a written statement to the consortium, Khusro said a Pakistani anti-corruption agency’s investigation against his family “was founded on baseless allegations which had underestimated his family’s past wealth”, and that it had so far not resulted in a formal complaint.

Furthermore, former minister for water resources Faisal Vawda set up an offshore company in 2012 to invest in UK properties, the Pandora Papers show. The now-senator told the ICIJ that he had declared all foreign assets held in his name to tax authorities.

The Pandora Papers further revealed that the son of former finance adviser to the prime minister Waqar Masood Khan co-owned a company based in the British Virgin Islands. Khan told the ICIJ that he did not know what his son’s company did and that his son lived a “modest life”, and was not his dependent.

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