In series of posts on Twitter, Pakistan’s premier urges global community to treat ‘looted money’ similar to climate change crisis
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday expressed his government’s resolve to investigate “all citizens” named in the Pandora Papers leaks, vowing to take appropriate action “if any wrongdoing” is proven.
“We welcome the Pandora Papers exposing the ill-gotten wealth of elites, accumulated through tax evasion and corruption and laundered out to financial ‘havens.’ The U.N. Secretary General’s panel FACTI calculated a staggering $7 trillion in stolen assets parked in largely offshore tax havens,” he wrote in a series of posts on Twitter.
Recalling that he believed corruption caused poverty because it diverted money “from being invested in our people,” he claimed this also caused currency devaluation that provoked “thousands” of poverty-related deaths. Citing the example of the East India Company and its plunder of “the wealth of India,” he said that “ruling elites of developing world are doing the same.” He reiterated his concern that rich states were not interested in preventing this or repatriating “looted” money.
“My government will investigate all our citizens mentioned in the Pandora Papers and if any wrongdoing is established we will take appropriate action,” he vowed. “I call on the international community to treat this grave injustice as similar to the climate change crisis,” he said, claiming that if this situation were not checked, “inequalities between rich and poor states will increase as poverty rises in the latter.” He claimed this would cause economic migration from poor to rich states, “causing further economic and social instability across the globe.”
The Pandora Papers has named over 700 Pakistanis in its probe of the financial assets of high-profile individuals across the world. Most prominent of those are Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin; Water Resources Minister Moonis Elahi; Senator Faisal Vawda; Ishaq Dar’s son, Ali Dar; PPP’s Sharjeel Memon; the family of Industries and Production Minister Khusro Bakhtiar; PTI leader Aleem Khan; and several retired army officials, businessmen, and media company owners.
It is not illegal to establish an offshore company so long as it is declared before tax authorities in an individual’s home state. It is unclear how many of the Pakistanis linked to the Pandora Papers have complied with law or have been seeking to avoid tax by hiding their wealth abroad.