ISLAMABAD - Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) has constituted a committee to investigate over 600 Pakistanis, whose named appeared in the Panama Papers for owning offshore companies.

Shakil Chaudhary, Joint Director Media and Corporate Communications Department SECP, told The Nation through email that the committee used website of International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and details contained in the media reports as source documents to identify the list of persons.

He said during the probe it was observed that full or correct names, along with computerized national identity cards numbers, of individuals were not mentioned in the source documents. Therefore, identification was made by corroborating other sources such as media reports, search engines, and by examining financial statements of companies.

Despite the aforesaid impediments, the identified persons were searched in the available record of the SECP, which constituted more than 70,000 companies registered with it, found that 444 persons whose names appeared either on ICIJ website in relation to Panama Papers or given in the media reports are related to Pakistan. These persons are officers or owners of 280 offshore companies mentioned in Panama papers .

Out of the referred 444 persons, 155 individuals were found to be directors on companies in Pakistan. These 155 persons are directors in 600 number of companies registered in the country. Out of those 600, 474 are private companies while 36 are public listed companies and 90 are Public unlisted companies including 29 Not-for-profit companies.

He further said that the committee has noticed that no direct investment had been made, in offshore companies given in Panama Papers , by the companies registered in Pakistan relating to identified individuals as per the financial statements available with the SECP.

The available record reflects that, prima facie, the investments as mentioned in the Panama Papers were made by the persons in their individual capacity and the same have not been routed through the company’s accounts. Hence, investments by individuals do not fall within the jurisdiction of the SECP. The relevant data has been shared with the FBR for any action on their part, if required, he said.

The statement of SECP came in response to the statement of Minister Finance Ishaq Dar, on September 26, published in TheNation newspaper on September 27.

Last Monday, Ishaq Dar, while answering a question of PTI lawmaker Arif Alvi, told the National Assembly that “No notices were issued by the SECP”.

Alvi had asked whether it is a fact that the Federal Board of Revenue, State Bank of Pakistan and Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan have sent notices to those 600 Pakistanis whose names have surfaced in the Panama Papers .

In its clarification SECP said it regulates the corporate sector of Pakistan in accordance with the provisions of laws it administers and specifically regulates entities and not individuals in their personal capacity.