•Declares govt will investigate all citizens named in latest disclosure to have offshore companies
•Regrets rich states are neither interested in preventing this plunder nor in repatriating looted money

ISLAMABAD: Welcoming the latest disclosure about offshore companies owned by Pakistanis, Prime Minister Imran Khan has promised his government will hold investigation of all those whose names have come up in the Pandora Papers, stating that “appropriate action” will be taken if any wrongdoing is established.

The prime minister made the announcement through a series of tweets on Sunday within minutes of the release of the “Pandora Papers”, a major international research into financial secrets held by high-profile individuals across the world by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

“We welcome the Pandora Papers exposing the ill-gotten wealth of elites, accumulated through tax evasion & corruption & laundered out to financial ‘havens’. The UNSG’s panel FACTI calculated a staggering $7 trillion in stolen assets parked in largely offshore tax havens,” wrote PM Khan in one of his tweets while referring to the report of the high-level Panel on International Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity for Achieving the 2030 Agenda (FACTI), which was launched officially on March 2, 2020, at the United Nations.

“My government will investigate all our citizens mentioned in the Pandora Papers & if any wrongdoing is established, we will take appropriate action,” he declared while calling on the “international community to treat this grave injustice as similar to the climate change crisis.”

Mr Khan said: “Just like the East India Company plundered the wealth of India, ruling elites of developing world are doing the same. Unfortunately, the rich states are neither interested in preventing this large-scale plunder nor in repatriating this looted money.”

Reiterating his stance that corruption causes poverty among the nations, the prime minister said: “My over two decades struggle has been premised on the belief that countries are not poor but corruption causes poverty, because money is diverted from being invested in our people. Also, this resource theft causes devaluation, leading to thousands of poverty-related deaths.”

He further tweeted: “If unchecked, inequalities between rich and poor states will increase as poverty rises in the latter.” This in turn, he said, would “lead to a flood of economic migration from the poor to the rich states, causing further economic and social instability across the globe.”

Earlier in the day, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry had claimed that the Pandora Leak would only strengthen Prime Minister Khan.

In a number of tweets, the federal minister had stated: “Like Panama, Pandora Leaks also disclose details of poor countries’ money transfer abroad.

“This disclosure would further strengthen the position of Prime Minister Imran Khan.”

The minister quoted Mr Khan as saying that rich countries should discourage the transfer of ill-gotten wealth from the poor to rich states.

“We hope that this investigation, like the Panama investigation, will open new avenues of transparency,” Mr Fawad said, adding that it would be “another reason to discourage corruption”.

Published in Dawn, October 4th, 2021

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