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Pakistan to expose corruption with whistle-blower policy

Cabinet announces 20% reward to those who help recover ill-gotten wealth stashed abroad

Gulf News

Islamabad: The new Pakistan government has launched a massive crackdown against corruption by announcing a whistle-blower law to retrieve illegal wealth of Pakistanis in foreign countries.

The government has formed an ambitious taskforce comprising officials of the Federal Investigation Agency and National Accountability Bureau to enforce an anti-corruption rule that would offer a 20 per cent reward to informers who help recover ill-gotten wealth stashed abroad by fellow Pakistanis. The names of informants would be kept confidential.

The decision was made in a federal cabinet meeting headed by Prime Minister Imran Khan at the Prime Minister’s Office on Wednesday.

“Initially we will target 100 big fish to retrieve their illegal wealth stashed in foreign countries,” said Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Accountability Shahzad Akbar at a press conference together with Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry after the cabinet meeting.

Akbar said the whistle-blower law would be enforced immediately through an ordinance offering a reward worth 20 per cent of the recovered amount to the informers. He said another ordinance on mutual legal assistance would be announced soon which would help remove blockages in the way of seeking information concerning illegal wealth from foreign countries.

Pakistan government would also hire firms to detect and help recover illegal money and in the case of recovery, the firm would get an agreed share of the recovered amount, Akbar informed.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has also directed the foreign ministry to send a delegation to Switzerland to accelerate ratification of a treaty on exchange of information on bank accounts. The treaty was signed in 2013, but was not ratified. “Unfortunately the treaty has been dumped in files intentionally by the previous rulers, instead of being ratified. Now the prime minister has issued directives to immediately ratify the treaty so that the government can get information regarding transfer of corruption money into Swiss banks by the Swiss authorities,” Akbar added.

According to a report by Swiss National Bank, Pakistan has more total deposits in Swiss Banks than neighbouring India despite having an economy almost a tenth the size of India’s. Thousands of Pakistanis have allegedly stashed nearly $350 billion (Rs43 trillion) in different tax havens abroad, according to the revelation by local authorities.

Akbar said the PM would himself monitor the progress of the anti-corruption task force and would get reports on implementation of the measures on fortnightly basis.

Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry said so far Rs80 billion has been returned back to Finance Ministry due to impeding of discretionary funds by Prime Minister. This money, he said, would be injected into development projects.

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