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ISLAMABAD: Transparency International-Pakistan (TI-P) has urged Prime Minister Imran Khan to direct FBR to initiate proceeding against all Pakistani citizens named in Panama Papers and Pandora Papers.

In a letter to Secretary to Prime Minister, Azam Khan, TI-P, said that it has noted that over 700 citizens of Pakistan are named in Pandora Papers in 2021 in addition to 450 persons/citizens earlier named in Panama papers in 2016.

According to TI-P, when Panama papers were released in May 2016, cases were filed in the Supreme Court of Pakistan, the SECP, SBP, FIA and FBR also took up the matter to investigate citizens named therein. However, the Supreme Court of Pakistan took action only against few Pakistani citizens, while no action was taken against a majority of the citizens named in it. Similarly, SECP, SBP, FIA and FBR failed to initiate any tangible action against them.

On April 8, 2018, the Tax Amnesty Scheme Foreign Assets (Declaration and Repatriation) Act, 2018 was announced which was wholly rejected by the PM in his capacity as the head of PTI, stating that such an Act is intended to punish tax-payers for their honesty and provides a chance to corrupt individuals to turn their black money white.

However, under this Act, it is stated in Section 5 (2), that the provisions of this Act were not applicable to any proceeds or assets that are involved in or derived from the commission of a criminal offense.

The declaration of assets at 2% to 3 % values were allowed, but money trail, and proof that the sources of funds were not derived from criminal offence, were to be provided to FBR. Tax Evasion (under Income Tax Ordinance 2001, Section numbers 192,193,194,195,196,197,198 and 199), remittance of money from Pakistan, not through SBP route, are declared as criminal acts under the laws of Pakistan.

After the new government took over on August 18, 2018, notices were issued to at least 294 Pakistanis out of 444 who were named in the Panama Papers, as was stated by Federal Minister for Finance Asad Umar.

However, following such a sensational announcement nothing seems to have come to fruition from issuance of said notices.

Transparency International Pakistan has requested the PM to order FBR to initiate proceeding against all Pakistani citizens named in Panama Papers and Pandora Papers.

TI-P argues that in order to determine any wrong doing, it is imperative that the FBR seeks from those named in Pandora Papers and Panama Papers, the following: (i) provide proof that the sources of funds were not derived from criminal offence; (ii) provide an explanation, with supporting documentary evidences, explaining how the funds were sent to Offshore Companies from Pakistan, or abroad; (iii) Foreign Assets (Declaration and Repatriation) Act, 2018 is not applicable if any of (1) and (2) are not satisfied; and (iv) all foreign assets of Pakistani citizens named in the Panama Papers and Pandora Papers shall be frozen by FBR, and those assets which will not be justified within three months shall be confiscated, and proceedings shall be initiated to recover these assets under Article 51/52/53/54/ 55/56/57/58, Chapter V (Asset Recovery) of Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (Annex-B), included in UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) ratified by GoP in August 2017.

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