Friday, 24 March 2023

Pandora Papers Leaks Financial Secrets of Pakistan’s Rich and Powerful exposed

A leaked data on offshore companies that is larger in size than the Panama Papers, exposed the financial secrets of the global rich and powerful, including politicians, financiers, retired generals, media owners and businessmen.

Who were Exposed in Pandora Papers ?

More than 700 Pakistanis have been discovered in the data and the majority of them are tax residents in this country. This information has been named Pandora Papers and it adds significantly to what was discovered in the Panama Papers and Paradise Papers.

The Pandora Papers have exposed of more than 330 public officials in 90 countries. Included among them are 35 current and former leaders of different countries. The king of Jordan, the rulers of Qatar and Dubai, presidents of Ukraine, Kenya and Ecuador, the prime ministers of the Czech Republic and Lebanon, and former British prime minister Tony Blair, all appear in the secret files.

Pandora Papers provides more insight than Panama Papers

Pandora Papers were leaked to the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) which for nearly two years led an investigation collaborating with more than 600 journalists in 117 countries. This is the biggest journalism partnership in history, which involved 150 media organizations. 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. The Pandora Papers comprise 11.9 million documents whereas the Panama Papers had 11.5 million.

Media owners, and businesspersons in Pandora Papers

More than 700 Pakistanis who are tax-residents in the country or do business abroad have been found in the data covering the duration between 1996 and 2020. Other than the political figures mentioned above, the Pandora Papers have discovered the offshore companies and assets of media owners, and businesspersons.

Publishers of Jang Group Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, the Dawn Group’s Hameed Haroon, the Express Group’s Sultan Lakhani and Pakistan Today’s late Arif Nizami have been found holding one offshore company each. Gourmet Pakistan’s owners, who also run a news channel, GNN, have an offshore company whose director is Gourmet’s business executive. 

Afzal Muzaffar was implicated in a case related to making an illegal investment of Rs4.3 billion in the stock market while being the DG NLC, which caused a loss of Rs1.8 billion. 

Such practices have come under criticism because this facility is often used to avoid taxes, transfer profits from countries where it is earned to shell companies that exist only on paper in low-tax jurisdictions. The Pandora Papers discovered scores of examples where business units were sold in Pakistan but received payments abroad in bank accounts opened in the name of offshore companies.

Minister for Finance & Revenue Shaukat Fayyaz Tarin, Minister for Water Resources Chaudhry Moonis Elahi and Elahi’s predecessor Faisal Vawda, President of the National Bank of Pakistan Arif Usmani, PM’s ambassador at large for Foreign Investment Ali Jehangir Siddiqui, Managing Director of the National Investment Trust Adnan Afridi, among others. 

The family of Minister for Industries Khusro Bakhtyar and the son of Waqar Masood, the PM’s Special Assistant who recently resigned, have also surfaced in the Pandora Papers controversy. 

The founder of the fallen equity firm Abraaj, Arif Masood Naqvi, Senior Minister of Punjab Abdul Aleem Khan and business tycoon Tariq Shafi are named in the data. From the Opposition, Ishaq Dar’s son and Sharjeel Memon have surfaced in the Pandora Papers.

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