National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has written to several state institutions seeking record and details of offshore companies reportedly established in tax havens abroad by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Aleem Khan and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) leader Chaudhry Moonis Elahi, it emerged on Friday.
The development comes less than a month after NAB Chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal ordered an immediate inquiry into the companies held by 435 Pakistanis in tax havens abroad.
According to documents acquired by DawnNews, NAB Lahore has in correspondence to the State Bank of Pakistan, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and to SBP's Financial Monitoring Unit, sought details of remittances and bank transactions and record of tax returns of Khan and his wife by January 23.
According to NAB, the PTI leader is the owner of an offshore company, HEXAM Investment Overseas Ltd.
The bureau has also written to the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and SBP to seek information about the offshore firm owned by former MPA Elahi, called Olive Grove Assets Limited.
It has requested submission of details of Elahi and his wife's remittances, and other records that may be relevant to the offshore company.
After putting it off for nearly two years, last month the NAB had finally decided to tighten the noose around owners of the offshore companies exposed in the Panama Papers.
The Supreme Court had in November last year sent notices to NAB and the federal government seeking reports on action taken against Pakistanis named in the Panama Papers.
The Panama Papers, a massive investigation into secretive offshore companies owned by the world’s political and business elite, had sparked controversy in several countries last year. At home, their publication led to the disqualification of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
It should be pointed out here that the setting up of off-shore companies is, in itself, not a criminal act and has many legitimate uses.
However, critics have argued that these companies are established for tax evasion and demanded that action be taken against those who engage in money laundering.