The rich list

Over 200 people of Pakistani origin are on the Panama Papers list and there are some very big names indeed

Editorial April 05, 2016
PHOTO: FILE

The Panama Papers constitute one of the biggest-ever leaks of confidential or secret information, surpassing in volume alone that made by Edward Snowden.

The papers were leaked from a Panamanian law firm called Mossack Fonseca and in 11.5 million documents there is a trove of information as to how the world’s richest people have concealed their money in offshore companies in order to avoid taxation.

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Over 200 people of Pakistani origin are on the list and there are some very big names indeed. The leak and the subsequent analysis by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung has made headlines around the world, but in the case of those named as from Pakistan, which includes individuals belonging to the prime minister’s family, it has done nothing — so far — to uncover any wrongdoing or criminal activity.



Very wealthy people have attempted to avoid taxation since time immemorial. So-called ‘tax havens’ were developed to service this need as well as provide significant revenue for the countries in which they are legally based. There is nothing inherently illegal about operating a tax haven nor anything inherently illegal in taking advantage of the relief from taxation they offer. But it is also true that tax havens can be and have been used for criminal purposes, providing a parking place for ill-gotten gains and laundering dirty money.

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They offer a cloak of invisibility to those using them. While there is no evidence so far that any of those named in Pakistan have done anything other than what very rich people do worldwide when they avail themselves of tax-haven services, it remains doubtful whether there will ever be any impartial investigation within the country that could confirm this.

Hiding one’s wealth may not be a crime per se but it does give rise to suspicion and doubt as to motive and if those who rule us are in any way found linked to such activity, they have to face and answer the uncomfortable questions they are confronted with.

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These revelations may not confirm any criminality but they do sit uneasily in terms of the fact that the ruling classes of Pakistan have used tax havens for decades whilst presiding over a desperately poor country, where the tax burden is unfairly borne by the salaried and working classes while the super rich conveniently avoid paying their share.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 6th,  2016.

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COMMENTS (16)

syed & syed | 4 years ago | Reply | Recommend As said and discussed offshore business is not a crime. But it is a crime when Shareef family purchased flats before selling the Industry in 2005 in Saudi Arabia.What was the source of this investment It becomes a crime when a person holding key position in the government and those sitting in parliament are involved. An article in the daily News regarding this subject is very comprehensive. PM of Iceland resigns. PM of UK clarified his position that he sold his shares much before he contested for the post. If Nawaz Shareef was honest he should have listened to the wife of Shahbaz Shareef instead of Ch Nisar going around the world with a begging bowl. The Supreme Court should take a Suo moto action and all parliamentarians and there sons and daughter and wives be put on ECL and debarred from holding any office pending inquiry. Armed forces be asked to assist to close the doors of parliament and PM house..
excalibur | 4 years ago | Reply | Recommend @observer: stop peddling wrong information. Musharraf is not in the list of rogues
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