Pandora Papers: Moonis Elahi denies allegation of owning offshore company

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Water Resources Moonis Elahi on Tuesday reacted to the news of his name being mentioned in the Pandora Papers and denied the allegations of owning an offshore company.

Taking to Twitter, Elahi wrote: “I do not own any offshore company nor do I have any assets which have not been declared.” 

The minister further said that he refutes “all assertions to the contrary.”

It should be noted that Elahi’s name, along with 700 Pakistanis, was mentioned in the Pandora Papers, an investigation uncovering financial secrets held by high-profile individuals across the world.

Aside from Elahi, Minister for Finance Shaukat Tarin; Senator Faisal Vawda; PML-N leader Ishaq Dar’s son, Ali Dar; PPP’s Sharjeel Memon; the family of Minister for Industries and Production Khusro Bakhtiar; and PTI leader Abdul Aleem Khan, among others were mentioned in the report with alleged links to offshore companies.

Some retired army officials, businessmen — including Axact’s CEO Shoaib Sheikh — and media company owners, have also been named in the leaks.

Earlier, Shaukat Tarin, Abdul Aleem Khan, Sharjeel’s Memon, and Ali Dar had also issued clarifications regarding the Pandora Papers probe.

The probe

The International Consortium of Investigative (ICIJ) received more than 11.9 million documents containing 2.94 terabytes worth of confidential information from service providers who helped set up and manage offshore companies and trusts in tax havens around the world.

The ICIJ shared the data with 150 media organisations and has led the broadest collaboration in journalism history. It took the ICIJ almost two years to organise the investigation that involved more than 600 journalists in 117 countries, making it the biggest-ever journalism partnership.

By comparison, for the Panama Papers, almost 400 journalists from 80 countries participated in the investigation.

The News was the only ICIJ partner from Pakistan on both occasions. In addition, also partnered with the ICIJ in the Bahamas leak and the Paradise Papers.

The Pandora Papers leak uncovers the financial secrets of more leaders and public officials than the Panama Papers did and provides more than twice as much information about the ownership of offshore companies.

The Panama Papers were based on the data of a Panama-based law firm called Mossack Fonseca that revealed offshore holdings of 140 politicians, public offshore, and sports stars. Those documents were obtained by the German newspaper, Süddeutsche Zeitung, which contained records dating back 40 years.

By comparison, the Pandora Papers investigation is bigger in size, and revelations about politicians and public officials are also far more than what previously came to public attention.