Hidden offshore treasures of rich and powerful revealed

ISLAMABAD: A huge tranche of leaked data on offshore companies that is larger in size and scope than the Panama Papers, hit the global headlines Sunday night, laying bare the financial secrets of the global rich and powerful, including Prime Minister Imran Khan’s cabinet members, financiers, retired generals, media owners and businessmen.

The names of more than 700 Pakistanis have been discovered in the data and majority of them are tax-residents in this country. This trove of information has been named Pandora Papers and it adds significantly to what was discovered in the Panama Papers and Paradise Papers. A veritable Pandora’s Box of information has been opened, releasing unending trouble and woes for those named.

The Pandora Papers have unmasked the fortunes of more than 330 public officials in 90 countries. Included among them are 35 current and former leaders of different countries. The King of Jordan, the rulers of Qatar and Dubai, presidents of the Ukraine, Kenya and Ecuador, the prime ministers of the Czech Republic and Lebanon, and former British prime minister Tony Blair, all appear in the secret files.

For Pakistan, the files pose a big test to the accountability credentials of Prime Minister Imran Khan, who had found the Panama Papers a “God-sent” opportunity to burnish his credentials as an anti-corruption warrior. The names of some of his key team members and financiers have now surfaced in the Pandora Papers. Included among them are Minister for Finance & Revenue Shaukat Fayyaz Tarin, Minister for Water Resources Chaudhry Moonis Elahi and Elahi’s predecessor Faisal Vawda, President of the National Bank of Pakistan Arif Usmani, PM’s ambassador at large for Foreign Investment Ali Jehangir Siddiqui, Managing Director of the National Investment Trust Adnan Afridi, among others. The family of Minister for Industries Khusro Bakhtyar and the son of Waqar Masood, the PM’s Special Assistant who recently resigned, have also surfaced. Founder of the fallen equity firm, Abraaj, Arif Masood Naqvi, Senior Minister of Punjab Abdul Aleem Khan and business tycoon Tariq Shafi are named in the data. From the opposition, Ishaq Dar’s son and Sharjeel Memon have surfaced in the Pandora Papers.

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