ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin has said that he will direct the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to hold investigations of over 700 Pakistanis, including himself, whose names have appeared in the Pandora Papers.

The finance minister made the announcement while talking to Geo TV where he had appeared to clarify his own role in the opening of an offshore company mentioned in the Pandora Papers soon after the release of the files.

“Definitely, we will catch all those who were found to have committed wrongdoings,” said the finance minister when his attention was drawn by the anchor towards the prime minister’s tweets in which he had announced that the government would investigate all those Pakistanis whose names had appeared in the Pandora Papers.

The minister said that he was “in favour” of the action as announced by the prime minister, adding that the FBR’s action would soon be seen by everyone.

Explains position about four offshore accounts

“I am a Pakistani citizen and I must pay taxes. I am one of the largest tax payers (in the country),” said Mr Tarin, declaring that he did not believe in tax avoidance.

Earlier, through the official social media account on Twitter, the finance minister explained that “in 2014, M E Developers LLC of Tariq bin Laden wanted to invest in Silkbank. They got in principal approval from the SBP (State Bank of Pakistan) and then opened four offshore accounts to raise structured finance to raise funds.”

“Before anything could happen there was law and order situation in Pakistan and bin Laden decided not to invest. No bank accounts were opened, no transactions took place and the companies stood closed,” claimed the finance minister.

Mr Tarin later in the TV show said that he was ready to present himself before the FBR for investigations.

He said the offshore companies were opened when Tariq Fawad Malik, who worked for the UAE’s Tariq bin Laden company, had obtained formal permission to invest in Silk Bank, of which he was a major stakeholder.

Later, when minds were changed regarding investment, the companies were closed, between 2014 and 2015, the finance minister said.

According to Geo, Mr Tarin said Tariq bin Laden was a major Saudi investor, while Tariq Fawad Malik worked for bin Laden’s company in the UAE.

Published in Dawn, October 4th, 2021

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