Panama Papers claims Pak PM, but probe in Nepal ‘snail-paced’The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Friday disqualified Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from office over graft allegations. Sharif became the biggest casualty of the Panama Papers leaks.
The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Friday disqualified Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from office over graft allegations. Sharif became the biggest casualty of the Panama Papers leaks. But in Nepal, investigation into people who were said to have run offshore companies according to the Panama Papers has been moving at a snail’s pace.
The Panama Papers database that the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) published in April last year had listed 19 names from Nepal, including some top businessmen, who had offshore companies, particularly in the countries known as tax heavens.
For seven individuals, the data source was from the Panama Papers while for the rest, the source was Offshore Leaks. Officials at the Department of Money Laundering Investigation (DoMoLI) admit that probe into the issue “is underway without much progress”, for it is a time-consuming process.
“Our investigation so far has not found money going out from the country for the offshore companies. Neither have we found money coming in from such companies as mentioned in the Panama Papers,” said Binod Lamichhane, spokesperson for the DoMLI. “But, this does not mean the investigation is over, as you cannot see money going out because there has been a trend of siphoning off money from Nepal as part of trade finance.”
After Panama Papers were leaked, a taskforce comprising the DoMLI, the Financial Information Unit (FIU) of the Nepal Rastra Bank and Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) of Nepal Police had suggested that the country gather more information on individuals implicated in the Panama Papers.
The FIU then had sought information from members of the Egmont Group, a cross-country platform for the secure exchange of expertise and financial intelligence to combat money laundering and terrorist financing, on whether people mentioned in the Panama Papers had bank accounts in their banks and whether they were engaged in any suspicious transactions, according to sources.
“These countries had reported no suspicious transactions from them in their countries and the same was reported to the taskforce headed by deputy director general of the DoMLI,” a source said.
But officials would not say why the investigation was yet to be concluded if they had not found any substantial evidence against the people named in the Panama Papers. They would also not say how long it would take to complete the investigation.
As far as Pakistan is concerned, a landmark ruling by its top court on Friday comes after months of regular hearings in a case sparked by the Panama Papers leaks, and the verdict has been fairly swift.
Pakistan and Nepal are ranked almost together in the Transparency International (TI)’s corruption perception index. TI’s 2016 corruption perception index ranked Nepal 131st among 176 countries, while Pakistan was ranked 116th.
Experts say expedited investigation and swift justice can contribute immensely to reduce corruption, as every time the guilty are brought to book, it works as a deterrent to crime.
Sharif on Friday became the third political victim of the Panama Papers.
Iceland’s prime minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson had become the first major casualty who resigned days after the ICIJ put the Panama Papers leaks online. Spain’s industry minister Jose Manuel Soria was also forced to step down after he was found to have offshore investments.
From Nepal, no political figure has been implicated in the Panama Papers.