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October 23, 2016

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Pakistan to seek offshore companies information from nine tax havens

Pakistan to seek offshore companies information from nine tax havens

Has agreement with only one country

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s authorities are making efforts to seek information about tax details of 270 offshore companies from nine known tax havens around the globe where 444 individuals have invested billions of dollars, and, finally, their names appeared through PanamaLeaks, The News has learnt.

The cases of 444 individuals involving nine jurisdictions are being investigated by the FBR’s tax authorities named through PanamaLeaks at a time when political temperature is rising in the country in the wake of PTI’s call to shut down the federal capital from Nov 2 for claiming its protest against government’s failure to probe those disclosed through PanamaLeaks.

However, FBR’s official documents, available with The News, disclosed that out of nine known tax havens around the globe, Pakistan’s tax machinery, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), has signed avoidance of double taxation agreement only with Mauritius while Islamabad did not have any arrangement for getting desired arrangement for getting tax details or information from eight other destinations of tax havens. 

The nine major tax havens where Pakistanis had also invested and disclosed through Panama and BahamasLeaks included Panama, Bahamas, British Virgin Island, Seychelles, Samoa, Mauritius, Niue, Jersey and Anguilla. It was recently decided by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar that the FBR, through the Foreign Office, will establish contacts with all these tax havens for making formal request to provide them desired tax details. 

According to investigation done by the FBR, the tax havens disclosed through PanamaLeaks showed that there were total 270 entities which were owned by 444 individuals from Pakistan. In British Virgin Island, 168 entities were registered which were owned by 271 Pakistani individuals, 12 entities in Bahamas owned by 25 individuals, 41 entities in Panama owned by 84 individuals, 36 entities in Seychelles owned by 44 individuals, 7 entities in Niue owned by 10 individuals, 2 entities in Samoa owned by 4 individuals, 1 entity in Mauritius owned by 3 individuals, 1 entity in Jersey owned by 1 individual and 2 entities in Anguilla owned by 2 Pakistani individuals.

The tax havens in PanamaLeaks disclosed that in Anguilla the parent country is British Overseas Territory, and this company located at Caribbean. In tax haven of British Virgin Island, the parent country was British Overseas Territory and the local was Caribbean. 

In three tax havens Bahamas, Panama and Seychelles, independent companies were established in Atlantic Ocean, South America and Indian Ocean respectively. In tax haven of Niue, the parent companies were established at Free Association with New Zealand and its locations were South Pacific Ocean respectively. In Samoa and Mauritius, independent companies were established with location of Pacific Island and Indian Ocean. In tax haven of Jersey, the parent country of the companies was Crown Dependency of UK and its location was English Channel.

When contacted by this scribe, one top official of FBR told The News on Saturday that OECD forum was pressing hard on all tax havens for ensuring exchange of information with them in order to track down details against potential tax evaders. In a major development, they said that Swiss authorities have agreed in principle with OECD forum for placing a mechanism for ensuring exchange of information with effect from next year 2017 which will help many countries, including Pakistan, to get desired details about dirty money stashed into Swiss accounts by many influential belonging to this part of the world.

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