Pakistani court issues notice to PM in Panama Papers case

Imran Khan outside the Supreme Court

On Thursday, Pakistan’s Supreme Court issued notices for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter, son and son-in-law and others to respond to calls by opposition politicians for Sharif’s resignation in the wake of Panama Papers.

The start of the Supreme Court hearing was the latest chapter in a battle between Sharif and members of the opposition that has roiled the country since April.

“Nawaz Sharif should be held accountable like the prime minister of Iceland who was also named in the Panama Papers,” said Imran Kahn, a former international cricket star who is now a prominent opposition politician. Khan told reporters outside the Supreme Court in Islamabad that the panel of judges gave Sharif two weeks to provide a response.

Sharif welcomed the Supreme Court hearing, noting that he has also set-up a commission to examine the Panama Papers’ revelations, including reports that some of Sharif’s children were linked to offshore companies and property in the United Kingdom.

Opposition parties have called for a city-wide protest on November 2 to lockdown the capital city, Islamabad, home to two million people. According to reports, protestors will block all roads leading to government offices.

Meanwhile in the United States, the Democrat’s most senior member of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, Ron Wyden of Oregon, has demanded answers from the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of the Treasury about the ability of the U.S. to combat tax evasion and financial crime.

Using information obtained through ICIJ’s public Offshore Leaks database and through the committee’s own investigations into Panama Papers-related matters, Wyden sent a three-page letter  on Wednesday seeking information on what thousands of shell companies linked to the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca have reported to U.S. authorities about their taxes and activities.

“It’s critical to determine whether our government has the right tools to discern legitimate businesses from criminal enterprises, and to identify what additional measures might be needed to fight financial crime,” Sen. Wyden wrote.

Overnight in Beirut, Lebanon, parliamentarians reportedly agreed to new laws that would keep Lebanon off a blacklist of tax havens.

Responding to pressure from Panama Papers, according to French newspaper Le Monde, Lebanon agreed to adopt the global treaty designed to help governments exchange tax information among themselves to identify tax evasion and avoidance.

The move by Lebanon, one of the ten most secret jurisdictions in the world according to the Tax Justice Network, follows the example of Panama that, reeling from one of the largest leak of financial data in history, decided to sign the treaty in July.

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