Prime Minister Imran Khan promised ‘new Pakistan’ but members of his inner circle secretly moved millions offshore


Imran Khan at an anti-government rally in Lahore in 2016, shortly after the Panama Papers caused uproar in Pakistan. PHOTO/Arif Ali/AFP via Getty Images

Leak shows a key ally tried to bypass tax authorities and political and military elites bought luxury apartments and set up shell companies.

In 2018, Imran Khan, the Pakistani cricketing legend turned anti-corruption campaigner finally broke through.

After more than two decades in the political wilderness, the charismatic Oxford-educated media star seized on the publication of the Panama Papers, the 2016 journalistic exposé that revealed the offshore secrets of the global elite. Among the findings: The children of Pakistan’s sitting prime minister secretly owned a string of luxury London apartments.

Riding a wave of public outrage, Khan led protests around the country and a sit-in at the residence of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, demanding that he step down. With the support of the military establishment, Khan propelled his reformist party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), or Pakistan Movement for Justice, past its rivals in the 2018 national elections and propelled himself into the prime minister’s office in Islamabad.

In a televised victory speech, Khan promised a new era.

“We will establish supremacy of the law,” he said. “Whoever violates the law, we will act against them. Our state institutions will be so strong that they will stop corruption. Accountability will start with me, then my ministers, and then it will go from there.”

Now leaked documents reveal that key members of Khan’s inner circle, including cabinet ministers, their families and major financial backers have secretly owned an array of companies and trusts holding millions of dollars of hidden wealth. Military leaders have been implicated as well. The documents contain no suggestion that Khan himself owns offshore companies.

Among those whose holdings have been exposed are Khan’s finance minister, Shaukat Fayaz Ahmed Tarin, and his family, and the son of Khan’s former adviser for finance and revenue, Waqar Masood Khan. The records also reveal the offshore dealings of a top PTI donor, Arif Naqvi, who is facing fraud charges in the United States.

International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) for more

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