Imran Khan’s inner circle hiding millions in offshore accounts

New Delhi (IANS): Leaked documents under Pandora Papers reveal that key members of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s inner circle, including cabinet ministers, their families and major financial backers have secretly owned an array of companies and trusts holding millions of dollars of hidden wealth.

Military leaders have been implicated as well. The documents contain no suggestion that Khan himself owns offshore companies.

Among those whose holdings have been exposed are Khan’s finance minister, Shaukat Fayaz Ahmed Tarin, and his family, and the son of Khan’s former adviser for finance and revenue, Waqar Masood Khan. The records also reveal the offshore dealings of a top PTI donor, Arif Naqvi, who is facing fraud charges in the United States.

The files show how Chaudhry Moonis Elahi, a key political ally of Imran Khan’s, planned to put the proceeds from an allegedly corrupt business deal into a secret trust, concealing them from Pakistan’s tax authorities. Elahi did not respond to ICIJ’s repeated requests for comment.

Today, a family spokesman told ICIJ’s media partners that, “due to political victimisation misleading interpretations and data have been circulated in files for nefarious reasons”. He added that the family’s assets “are declared as per applicable law”.

The revelations are part of the Pandora Papers, a new global investigation into the shadowy offshore financial system that allows multinational corporations, the rich, famous and powerful to avoid taxes and otherwise shield their wealth. The probe is based on more than 11.9 million confidential files from 14 offshore services firms leaked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and shared with 150 news organizations around the world.

The Pandora Papers investigation exposes civilian government and military leaders who have been hiding vast amounts of wealth in a country plagued by widespread poverty and tax avoidance.

The newly leaked records reveal the use of offshore services by Pakistan’s elites that rivals the findings of the Panama Papers, which led to Nawaz Sharif’s downfall and helped propel Imran Khan to power three years ago.