Pandora probe to ascertain legitimacy of offshore companies: Fawad

Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry has said that a high-level cell comprising federal investigation agencies will probe more than 700 Pakistanis named in the Pandora Papers scandal and ascertain which offshore companies were illegal or involved in money laundering.

Fawad, while briefing the media following the federal cabinet meeting in Islamabad, said the matter of Pandor Papers was discussed in the meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday.

Pakistanis who own offshore companies have been classified into three categories, he said, adding that those who did not declare their offshore assets or found involved in money laundering will be probed by National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) officials.

Fawad said setting-up an offshore company and declaring it in the tax records is not an offence.

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday set up a ‘high-level cell’ to investigate roughly 700 Pakistanis, including his own cabinet ministers, retired generals and businessmen, who were named in the Pandora Papers – a huge tranche of leaked data on offshore companies.

Also read: Pandora Papers undrape corrupt leaders

The information minister had earlier announced that the cell was formed under the Prime Minister's Inspection Commission and it will question all individuals who were part of the Pandora Leaks. “Facts will be placed before the nation,” the government’s spokesperson had said.

Speaking about other issues discussed in today’s meeting, Fawad said the cabinet has decided to reduce sentences of prisoners on the occasion of upcoming Eid Miladun Nabi (PBUH), which will be celebrated with utmost reverence this year.

The minister said Prime Minister's Adviser Dr Babar Awan informed the meeting that the opposition was invited to come up with its recommendations on the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) in the next general elections but to no avail.

Fawad said the government will take this matter to the joint session of the parliament, but at the same time it will continue convincing the opposition over the issue.

The government was working on electoral reforms, including the use of EVMs, to ensure free, fair, transparent, and credible elections in the country, he maintained.

(This story has been published from The Express Tribune feed, without modifications to the text)