PM Khan welcomes "Pandora Papers" and vows to investigate "the ill-gotten wealth of elites laundered out to financial havens."

PM Imran Khan, who had run for office on an anti-graft platform, says that global poverty levels were fuelled by corruption in tax havens, which he says divert funds away from the general public.
PM Imran Khan, who had run for office on an anti-graft platform, says that global poverty levels were fuelled by corruption in tax havens, which he says divert funds away from the general public. (Reuters)

Prime Minister Imran Khan has promised to "investigate" Pakistani citizens connected to a massive probe into the hidden wealth of politicians worldwide after members of his inner circle were named in the report.

"We welcome the Pandora Papers exposing the ill-gotten wealth of elites, accumulated through tax evasion & corruption & laundered out to financial 'havens,'" Khan said in a long Twitter thread on Sunday.

"The UN SG's Panel FACTI calculated a staggering $7 trillion in stolen assets parked in largely offshore tax-havens."

Khan said his government will investigate "all our citizens mentioned in the Pandora Papers & if any wrongdoing is established we will take appropriate action" while calling on the international community "to treat this grave injustice as similar to the climate change crisis."

Khan, who had run for office on an anti-graft platform, said that global poverty levels were fuelled by corruption in tax havens, which he said divert funds away from the general public.

He also slammed wealthy countries for not being "interested in preventing this large-scale plunder nor in repatriating this looted money."

"My over-two decades struggle has been premised on the belief that countries are not poor but corruption causes poverty because money is diverted from being invested in our people. Also, this resource theft causes devaluation, leading to thousands of poverty-related deaths," Khan said.

READ MORE: Pandora Papers exposes hidden assets of politicians, govts and celebs

'Pandora Papers' investigation

The so-called "Pandora Papers" investigation –– involving some 600 journalists from media including The Washington Post, the BBC, and The Guardian –– is based on the leak of some 11.9 million documents from 14 financial services companies around the world.

Some 35 current and former world leaders are featured in the documents analysed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) –– facing allegations ranging from corruption to money laundering and global tax avoidance.

In Pakistan, members of Khan's inner circle –– including cabinet ministers and their families –– are said to secretly own companies and trusts holding millions of dollars.

The "Pandora Papers" are the latest in a series of mass ICIJ leaks of financial documents, from LuxLeaks in 2014, to the 2016 Panama Papers, the Paradise Papers in 2017, and FinCen files in 2020.

One of Khan's predecessors, Nawaz Sharif, was ousted by the country's Supreme Court in 2017 over allegations made in the Panama Papers.

In total, the ICIJ found links between almost 1,000 companies in offshore havens and 336 high-level politicians and public officials, including country leaders, cabinet ministers, ambassadors, and others.

Embarrassment for anti-corruption leaders 

In most countries, the ICIJ stresses, it is not illegal to have assets offshore or to use shell companies to do business across national borders.

But such revelations are no less of an embarrassment for leaders who may have campaigned publicly against corruption –– such as Khan –– or advocated austerity measures at home.

"Just like the East India Company plundered the wealth of India, ruling elites of developing world are doing the same. Unfortunately, the rich states are neither interested in preventing this large-scale plunder nor in repatriating this looted money," PM Khan said.

"If unchecked, inequalities between rich & poor states will increase as poverty rises in the latter. This, in turn, will lead to a flood of economic migration from the poor to the rich states, causing further economic & social instability across the globe."

Source: AFP