Pandora Papers Fallout: India, Pakistan vow to take action
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has formed a high-level cell to probe the Pandora Papers exposé, which included key members of his inner circle, including cabinet ministers, their families and major financial backers.
The cell will present the facts before the nation, said the News International, which investigated the filed linked to Pakistan, quoting Fawad Chaudhry, the country's information minister.
This comes after Khan earlier in the day tweeted that he welcomed the exposé, the most comprehensive yet on the shadow financial world.
The names of more than 700 Pakistanis have been discovered in the data and the majority of them are tax residents in the country.
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 Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf donor, Arif Naqvi, who is facing fraud charges in the US.
"My government will investigate all our citizens mentioned in the Pandora Papers and if any wrongdoing is established, we will take appropriate action. I call on the international community to treat this grave injustice as similar to the climate change crisis," Khan tweeted.
Over in India, where more than 300 names were exposed, including six politicians, its government also said it would investigate the cases exposed in the Pandora Papers through a multi-agency group, reports our New Delhi correspondent.
The government has taken note of the developments and concerned investigative agencies would undertake probes in these cases and appropriate action would be taken in such cases as per law, the Indian finance ministry said in a statement.
"With a view to ensuring effective investigation in these cases, the government will also proactively engage with foreign jurisdictions for obtaining information in respect of relevant taxpayers/entities," it said.
The Indian Express, which is investigating the files linked to India, is yet to disclose all the names. But those named so far have all denied any wrongdoing.
One such name that figured in the Pandora Papers is Indian cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar along with his wife and father-in-law.
The three were beneficial owners of an offshore entity in the British Virgin Islands that was liquidated in 2016.
The date of liquidation of Saas International Limited is significant as it came three months after the Panama Papers exposé.
In the data obtained by the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), Tendulkar and his wife are categorised as Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs).
In one registry of PEPs, Tendulkar is listed on account of him being a Member of India's Upper House of Parliament and is put in the "high risk" category.
When contacted by The Indian Express, Mrinmoy Mukherjee, the chief executive officer and director of Sachin Tendulkar Foundation, said: "The referenced investment by Mr. Tendulkar has been made by him from his tax paid funds under the Liberalised Remittance Scheme (LRS) and has been duly accounted for and declared in his tax returns."
The investment was legitimately made through banking channels from India and has been declared to the income tax authorities, he added.
Similarly, Anil Ambani, the chairman of Reliance Group, featured prominently in the leaks and he too denies any wrongdoing.
In February 2020, following a dispute with three Chinese state-controlled banks, Anil Ambani told a London court that his net worth was zero.
The court observed that "there are questions about the extent to which Ambani has any offshore interests, because if so they have not been declared".
Three months later, he was ordered to pay $716 million to the banks. But he did not, and denied having any asset or worthwhile beneficial interest in any entity worldwide.
Records in the Pandora Papers investigated by The Indian Express reveal that the chairman of Reliance ADA Group and his representatives own at least 18 offshore companies in Jersey, the British Virgin Islands and Cyprus.
Set up between 2007 and 2010, seven of these companies have borrowed and invested at least $1.3 billion.
Asked by The Indian Express about the offshore companies and transactions, a lawyer, on behalf of Anil Ambani, said: "Our client is a tax resident of India and has made disclosures to Indian authorities as required to be made in compliance with the law. All required considerations were taken into account when making disclosures before the London court. The Reliance Group conducts business globally and for legitimate business and regulatory requirements, companies are incorporated in different jurisdictions."
Popular Bollywood actor Jackie Shroff was the prime beneficiary of a trust set up in New Zealand by his mother-in-law, records in the Pandora Papers investigated by The Indian Express reveal.
He also made "substantial contributions" to this trust, which had a Swiss bank account and owned an offshore company registered in the British Virgin Islands, records show.
On November 29, 2005, Claudia Dutt, the mother of Shroff's wife Ayesha, formed Media Trust, which is registered with London Fiduciary Trust Company Limited (LFTC) in New Zealand, a trustee company that provides trust and corporate services. Media Trust was terminated in September 2013.
According to the memorandum concerning the trust, Shroff's son Jai Shroff (Tiger Shroff) and daughter Krishna Shroff were the other beneficiaries.
The brother of billionaire Gautam Adani, who is said to be in good terms with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, set up a company in the British Virgin Islands three years ago, records in the Pandora Papers investigated by The Indian Express reveal. He now claims that the company has been "closed".