Days after the leaked offshore data exposed secrets of some cabinet members, retired generals and others, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Chairman Rana Tanveer Hussain has announced that the committee will take up the Pandora Papers’ issue as the government might try to cover it up.
Since its release, Pandora Papers – the biggest data leak on tax avoidance and evasion as well as money laundering – have taken the world by storm, but the slow pace of investigations in Pakistan has led the PAC chairman to say that PAC will take briefings from the authorities concerned and take action.
“The government has made several commissions in the past, including on sugar, wheat and medicine but the outcome was nothing,” the PAC chairman said. “The government might try to cover it [Pandora Papers issue] in the same way but God willing we will take it up.”
Emphasizing that the issue should definitely be investigated, Tanveer said that PAC had earlier called people on such issues and it would continue to do so, adding that PAC had even called people after Panama Papers as well and it would do everything it could in this matter.
“We [PAC] have the powers to issue summons and warrants as well,” he said, while talking to the media persons after chairing an in-camera meeting of the PAC at the Parliament House.
Disclosing that incumbent PAC in its three-year tenure had made a record of recovering Rs480 billions so far, Tanveer said that PAC would issue directions for the recovery, wherever it reached such a conclusion while examining the Pandora leaks.
In response to a question about summoning the officials of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), Tanveer said that it was too early to call them over the Pandora Papers issue. PAC would call them once there was some clarity on the issues and they were in a position to present some facts and figures, he added.
“The government is investigating the matter but PAC would do it on its own,” he reiterated, saying the all the relevant departments would be called to brief the committee on the Pandora papers leaks.
On October 3, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) opened a Pandora’s box – a massive trove of private financial records, dubbed as “Pandora Papers”. The leaks named also some 700 Pakistanis, including cabinet members, allegedly hiding financial secrets via offshore companies.
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.
The government has announced to establish a high-level cell under the Prime Minister’s Inspection Commission, which has been tasked to question all individuals, who are part of the Pandora Papers with the aim to present the facts before the nation.
The ICIJ’s investigation is the result of 600 journalists in 117 countries, studying for months roughly 11.9 million leaked documents. The name ‘Pandora Papers’ is in reference to the Greek mythology’s character in whose box would be all the ills of humanity.
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