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Dar orders inquiry into Bahamas leaks

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar at a meeting with Federal Board of Revenue officials on the Bahamas leaks on Thursday.—APP
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar at a meeting with Federal Board of Revenue officials on the Bahamas leaks on Thursday.—APP

ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has directed the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to launch an investigation into the offshore accounts of individuals and companies mentioned in the Bahamas leaks.

He issued the directive during a meeting with Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Revenue Haroon Akhtar Khan here on Thursday.

Mr Dar also asked the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan and the State Bank to conduct similar inquiries as per the due process of law.

“No discrimination against anyone should be made and the probe should be immediately started keeping in view legal formalities,” Mr Dar said.

Examine: Offshore tax havens

The documents leaked on Wednesday carried names of 150 Pakistani nationals who own companies in the Bahamas, a constellation of over 700 islands.

The data shared by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) with its media partners was originally obtained and released by German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung.

In a statement, the ICIJ said the new “revelations” provided fresh information about offshore companies in the Bahamas.

A brief detail shared by media sources suggested that 150 Pakistanis had been identified as directors of nearly 70 companies incorporated in the Bahamas between 1959 and 2016.

Among the Pakistanis named in the Bahamas Leaks is Jibran Khan, the son of former federal minister Mohammad Naseer Khan. The name of former Jamaat-i-Islami senator Professor Khursheed Ahmed is also found in the fresh data as the director of a bank registered in Miami. Obaid Altaf Khanani, Samina Durrani and Karachi-based Mohsin Shaikhani also own offshore companies, according to the data.

This is the second leak after the Panama Papers in May in which 259 Pakistanis were identified for owning offshore companies.

The FBR has issued notices to around 250 individuals, whose names have appeared in the Panama Papers, almost four months after the scam surfaced.

But in the case of the Bahamas leaks, the finance minister came with a directive for inquiry to relevant agencies promptly, just one day after the leaks surfaced.

However, the FBR, the SECP and the SBP have already said that the leaks cannot be investigated as per the existing laws.

Published in Dawn, September 23rd, 2016

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