ISLAMABAD - Although Federal Board of Revenue took five months to issue notices to the Panama nominees, the government in no time directed the departments concerned to investigate the matter.

The recent Bahamas leaks provided the new cache of politicians and others linked to more than 175,000 Bahamian companies that were registered between 1990 and 2016. There are around 150 Pakistanis linked with offshore companies in Bahamas. Prominent among those are Obaid Altaf Khanani, Professor Khurshid Ahmed, a former senator of Jamaat-e-Islami, Lahore High Court judge Muhammad Farrukh Irfan, Samina Durrani (mother-in-law of the Punjab chief minister), Jibran Khan, son of Muhammad Naseer Khan, a former health minister in the Pervez Musharraf government, and several businessmen.

The federal government took notice of the leaks on the next day of its release. Federal Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar, in a meeting with Special Assistant to PM on Revenue and an FBR team, gave directions to investigate the matter and take action against the individuals and companies named by a section of media in the Bahamas Leaks. The same instructions have been issued by the finance minister to SECP and State Bank of Pakistan,” stated an official handout.

The minister said that no discrimination against anyone should be carried out and the probe be started immediately, keeping in view all the legal formalities.

“As like Panama Papers, we will issue notices to the Bahamas nominees to examine and match the details after getting their final replies with the data in FBR,” said an official of the FBR. He admitted that FBR could open cases of tax evasion by a filer for a period of up to five years.

Earlier, the Panama Papers in April this year exposed 444 Pakistanis, including the prime minister’s daughter and sons, for having offshore companies. The FBR took five months in issuing notices to the Panama nominees. The FBR has issued notices to around 250 people since September 1. The FBR would issue notices to the remaining people named in the Panama leaks after getting their postal addresses. The notices have been issued under Section 176 of the Income Tax Ordinance 2001 to verify the information with the FBR database.