Panama Papers: FBR issues notices to PM’s children

The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has issued notices to around 600 owners of offshore companies whose names were appeared in the Panama Papers, including the family members of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Official sources told Business Recorder that cases where the postal addresses were not available with the FBR, it would collect addresses from Nadra, they added. An FBR official said that the exact number of notices would be known when all would be issued notices.

“We have issued notices to all of them in cases where their names were shown in the Panama Papers. The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has started the process of taking version/verification of all Pakistani individuals/companies, whose names appeared in the papers released by ICIJ regarding the ownership of offshore enterprises.”

The official said the notices have been issued under section 216 (notice to obtain information or evidence) of the Income Tax Ordinance 2001 to verify the information with the FBR database.

The FBR wanted to hear the viewpoint of the owners of offshore companies as reported by the papers released by ICIJ. The FBR has asked the concerned persons to explain their position whether they are owners of offshore accounts and other related information.

Another official said the notice under section 176 of the Income Tax Ordinance 2001 is just a hearing or third party notice. Detailed information has never been sought under notice of section 176. Under section 176, when a notice is served, the process of investigation starts.

Therefore, specific details have been asked during the course of hearing with the concerned person or his/her lawyer. However, the commissioner, investigating the matter, shall have the same powers as are vested in a court under the Code of Civil Procedure for investigation of the matter, he added.

Under section 216 of the Income Tax Ordinance 2001, the commissioner may, by notice in writing, require any person, whether or not liable for tax under the Ordinance to furnish to the commissioner or an authorised officer, any information relevant to any tax leviable under this Ordinance as specified in the notice; or attend at the time and place designated in the notice for the purpose of being examined on oath by the commissioner or an authorised officer concerning the tax affairs of that person or any other person and, for that purpose, the commissioner or authorised officer may require the person examined to produce any accounts, documents, or computer-stored information in the control of the person .

The commissioner may impound any accounts or documents produced and retain them for so long as may be necessary for examination or for the purposes of prosecution. The person from whom the information is required, may at his option, furnish the same electronically in any computer readable media.

Where a hard copy or computer disk of information stored on a computer is not made available as required, the commissioner may require production of the computer on which the information is stored, and impound and retain the computer for as long as is necessary to copy the required information.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2016