$11 bn believed to be stashed abroad by Pakistanis

Islamabad (IANS) The Imran Khan government believes that Pakistani nationals having more than 152,500 offshore bank accounts could have stashed away $11 billion abroad, the media reported on Tuesday.

“The number (of offshore accounts) is mind-boggling. So is the amount involved and the names of account holders,” Dawn news quoted Hammad Azhar, the Minister of State for Revenue,as saying at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) here on Monday.

“All of these offshore account holders are resident Pakistanis and more than half of the hard currency stashed away by them is undeclared. Many of them do not have legitimate, documented business.

“That should be enough to underscore the scale of tax evasion (in the country). We wouldn’t have to beg if we could bring this money back home,” he claimed, saying the offshore account holders were being watched by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).

The information about the offshore bank accounts of Pakistani nationals was shared with the government by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Around 400 account holders are believed to have cash of $1 million or above in their accounts and the FBR has so far been able to recover $1.2 million from only one individual.

Former Finance Minister Ishaq Dar had claimed earlier that Pakistani nationals had stashed a whopping $200 billion in Swiss accounts but never gave the source of his information, Dawn news said.

Based on his claim, the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf party had promised to recover this money after coming to power.

The Prime Minister has also set up the Asset Recovery Unit for this purpose.

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