SBP to probe Pakistanis named in Paradise Papers

ISLAMABAD -  After the Federal Board of Revenue, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has also announced issuing notices to Pakistanis named in the Paradise Papers.

SBP Governor Tariq Bajwa on Tuesday said that they were reviewing the names of Pakistanis mentioned in the leaks, adding that they would inquire into where the capital for the offshore companies came from. The central bank would see whether they had paid tax on the money, which was transferred or not, he said.

Bajwa said that they would also consider the money laundering aspect in this case. “We will send questionnaire to Pakistanis named in the leaks regarding their source of income and mode of transferring money. The SBP will take action against them if they could not satisfy us,” he added.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) on Sunday released a database of around 13.4 million documents revealing over 25,000 companies owned by world’s rich and influential individuals. The papers mention the names of Pakistani nationals including former Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, former National Insurance Corporation Limited chairperson Ayaz Khan Niazi and others.

The FBR has already said that it would examine the Paradise Papers to seek information from Pakistani nationals about ownership of offshore companies and details about their tax matters. “We are examining the Paradise Papers, which include the names many Pakistanis and will issue notices to them,” said an official of the FBR while talking to The Nation.

He said that the FBR would issue the notices under section 216 of the Income Tax Ordinance 2001 to verify the information with the FBR database. He said notices would be issued in the next few days, requiring the individuals named in the leaks to provide details of their investments in the offshore companies/trusts, the properties owned by these offshore entities and the income from offshore businesses.

“The FBR will take action against them if they could not satisfy us,” the official said. The FBR would start the process of taking version/verification of all Pakistani individuals/companies, whose names appeared in the papers released by the ICIJ regarding the ownership of offshore enterprises.

The FBR took more than five months in serving notices on over 600 Pakistanis named in the Panama Papers for owning offshore companies. The FBR faced criticism from opposition political parties for not sending notices to the Pakistanis named in the Panama Papers timely.


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