SC moved against those named in Pandora Papers

Published October 17, 2021
This file photo shows the Supreme Court of Pakistan. — Photo courtesy Supreme Court website/File
This file photo shows the Supreme Court of Pakistan. — Photo courtesy Supreme Court website/File

ISLAMABAD: The Sup­reme Court has been moved to order the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to launch an inquiry and determine if those named in the Pandora Papers and the Panama Papers had committed or indulged in any wrongdoing while transferring funds to offshore companies.

A petition filed before the apex court sought a direction for the citizens named in the Panama Papers and the Pandora Papers to clear themselves by assuring the FBR that the investment made in the offshore companies was neither derived nor sent through illegal means. The petition urged the court to order the FBR to direct such individuals to furnish an explanation with supporting documentary evidence.

Revealed: List of all Pakistanis named in Pandora Papers so far

The foreign assets of those Pakistani citizens who could not justify such transactions should be frozen by the FBR within three months in addition to initiation of legal proceedings to recover the­se assets under the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative as suggested in the UN Convention Against Corrup­tion (UNCAC), which was ratified by Pakistan in August 2007, according to the petition.

The petition was filed by Advocate Hashmat Habib on behalf of Transparency International of Pakistan (TIP) managing director Syed Adil Gillani pleading that the FBR confirm that all foreign assets declared in 2018 were not derived from the commission of criminal offences such as tax evasion, money laundering etc.

The petitioner recalled that Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan before coming to power had rejected the tax amnesty scheme for Foreign Assets (Declaration and Repatriation) Act, 2018 announced on April 8, 2018. Mr Khan had then stated that such law was intended to punish taxpayers for their honesty and provided a chance to corrupt individuals to turn their black money into white. The law clarified that its provision would not apply on proceeds or assets that were involved in or derived from the commission of a criminal offence.

The amnesty scheme was also not applicable to public office holders, including members of the board of directors of public sector enterprises such as PIA, SSGCL, PQA etc, their spouses and dependents, the petition added.

Under the tax amnesty scheme declaration of assets at 2 to 3 per cent values were allowed, but money trail, and proof that the sources of funds were not derived from criminal offence, were to be provided to the FBR, the petition emphasised.

Remittances from Pakistan not routed through the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) were declared criminal acts under the law, the petition said.

It recalled that the FBR on August 10, 2018 issued notices to at least 294 of the 444 Pakistanis who were named in the Panama Papers as per claim of then finance minister Asad Umar, but nothing seemed to have come to fruition in that regard.

Published in Dawn, October 17th, 2021

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