Second issue of ‘Leaks’ likely today

WEB DESK: The second installment of Panama Papers involving more than 400 Pakistanis who own offshore companies is likely to be released (Monday) today.

The Leaks are a searchable database by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) with information on more than 200,000 companies.

The Investigative Journalists made all-out efforts to find the records of Pakistanis who were found operating in multi-layered secrecy, either through proxy shareholders or by registering their correspondence addresses in foreign countries to hide their identity.

The leaks almost shook the nation when one son of the Prime Minister publicly accepted ownership of the costly Mayfair flats in London and two offshore companies.

Analysts say although, politicians attract more attention than others, the business class forms a majority in the list as they have been found using tax havens like the British Virgin Islands, Seychelles, Panama, NIUE and other such jurisdictions for transferring profits abroad, purchasing properties and opening bank accounts in Switzerland, Hong Kong, Singapore, Ireland and other such places.

The Panama Papers highlight Pakistan’s national problem with tax evasion and corruption. Despite their wealth, some of these owners of off-shore companies pay negligible amount of tax. Some of the 200 names linked to offshore companies by the Panama Papers do not even appear in the Federal Board of Revenue’s published lists of Pakistan’s top taxpayers.

Many made their wealth in sectors where they for years have lobbied governments for protection and subsidies to run businesses. In the case of politicians, many registered companies were set up during their times in power.

It may be added that revelation of Panama Papers has jolted politics and put pressure on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to inform the nation about his income since 1985, source of income and tax paid till to-date.

These papers have given the nation a new agenda of corruption free society and transparency in all walks of life.-  Business Recorder

by Rafique Goraya