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December 18, 2017

Imran himself admitted being owner of offshore company

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December 18, 2017

LONDON: Pakistan Terheek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan had admitted himself during an interview at London’s Heathrow airport that he was the founder of his offshore company called Niazi Services Limited (NSL) in 1983 – which he never declared before the Election Commission of Pakistan – and that it was his right to set up the offshore shell.

Imran Khan had arrived in London on May 13, 2016 to attend a fundraising event when he was approached by journalists about his own offshore company which was exposed on the same day (May 13, 2016) by The News investigative reporter Ahmad Noorani in a world exclusive that PTI chief Imran Khan’s London property - Flat 2, 165 Draycott Avenue, London (South Kensington) – was owned by a ‘Benaami’ offshore company called ‘Niazi Services Limited, registered in Jersey, Channel Island, on May 3, 1984.

The story led to a storm and it’s plausible that Imran Khan was not aware about the publication of the story as he took early morning flight to London and hence spoke bluntly about the his ownership.

His spokesman Naeemul Haq stressed to media that the said flat was always in the name of Imran Khan and that he had nothing to do with any offshore company and on April 4, 2016, Imran Khan himself condemned ownership through offshore companies and termed it a corrupt practice to hide ill-gotten wealth. “Only reason to open offshore accounts through Panama is to either hide wealth, especially ill-gotten wealth, or to evade tax or both,” said Imran Khan in a Tweet still available on his site.

At Heathrow Airport, Imran Khan was asked how he could condemn offshore companies of others when he himself was the secret owner of one which he didn’t declare in his 1997 nomination papers or any time after that.

Imran Khan accepted that he had set up the offshore company in 1983 on the advice of his accountant in England to “avoid paying taxes” but declared that “there’s nothing illegal in setting up an offshore company”.

Khan explained: “I took all that money to Pakistan (made after selling the flat owned by offshore company Niazi Services Limited). I have always said that, I did a press conference in 2012 when they asked me questions about the source of income for Banigala house. I showed the sales deed of London flat owned by Niazi Services Limited. I said in the press conference that I made Banigala house with money (raised through the sale of London flat owned by offshore Niazi Services Limited). I am amongst those Pakistanis who remit Rs10 billion to Pakistan from abroad and that helps run Pakistan.”

He went on to add: “To say that I made an offshore company (Niazi Services Limited), it was my right because I am not a citizen of England. Not a British national. It was my right to form offshore company because I didn’t want to pay full taxes in Britain.”

Imran Khan confirmed that he made his offshore company in the days he was playing county cricket. To avoid paying those heavy taxes, the PTI chief said the property was owned through an offshore company.

“I used to play county cricket in 1983 in England. I used to pay 35 percent tax on the money earned through cricket. Worcester and Sussex Counties can confirm the fact that I used to pay 35 percent tax on my income. I used that money to buy a flat in London. I was not a British national. My accountant advised me that if I sold my London flat and if it’s in my name, I would have to pay tax on that and it was upon this advice that my flat was bought in the name of an offshore company,” Imran Khan had explained.

The PTI leader said that he was amongst those Pakistanis who had earned money abroad and then sent it to Pakistan. Imran Khan said in the same press conference at Heathrow Airport that the Sharif family had tough questions to answer and alleged that the Sharifs had “looted money”.

“Buying through offshore is not illegal. The money that I received after the sale of my flat was sent to Pakistan,” Khan had said. According to the records, the flat was sold in March 2003 for GBP 715,000. ‘Niazi Services Limited’ was registered in the jurisdiction of Jersey, Channel Island on May 10, 1983 with company code 26211 on the address Langtry House, La Motte Street, St Helier, Jersey.

Documents of the government of Jersey, Channel Islands, show that the PTI chief’s benaami offshore company Niazi Services Limited not only remained operational till October 1, 2015 but Imran Khan also continued to file annual returns till February 2014 and paid a fee for filing returns.

Imran Khan filed annual returns on Feb 25, 2004, Feb 7, 2005, Feb 23, 2006, Feb 6, 2007, Jan 7, 2008, Feb 23, 2009, Jan 19, 2010, Feb 7, 2011, Feb 29, 2012, Feb 28, 2013, Feb 20, 2014 for the respective years and Niazi Services Limited was served a notice from the JFSC on June 30, 2015 and it was finally dissolved on October 1, 2015 after a final notice from the office of registrar for not filing annual return for the year 2015.

But announcing the decision, the chief justice said the court had found that Imran Khan was not liable to declare offshore company Niazi Services Ltd in his 2013 nomination papers as he was not a shareholder or director of the company and therefore he could not be disqualified. The evidence – provided by Imran Khan – clearly showed that not only Imran Khan owned the company, he received earning in its account, bought flat though it, lived there and used its sale for Banigala house.

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