Imran Khan admits forming offshore firm 30 years ago
Islamabad - Company used to evade UK taxes for buying a flat in London
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan has admitted that he formed an offshore company over 30 years ago so that he could dodge British taxes for purchasing a flat in London.
"I had a right to form an offshore company," Imran told reporters shortly after landing in London on a three-day visit to collect funds for Namal University he has established in Mianwali.
"I am not a British citizen, I did not want to pay the full taxes which would have been applicable if I sold my flat," he said, explaining the reason for creating the offshore company, adding that he was acting on the advice of his accountant to avoid paying more tax than the 35 per cent at which his income was already being taxed.
The company was operative till 2003 when he sold his London flat for £710,000 and bought the Bani Gala estate spread over 25 acres. Imran said he transferred the proceeds of London flat through a bank to Pakistan.
Analysts say the admission is likely to ease the pressure on Sharif's government from a Panama Papers data leak that showed Sharif's children had used offshore companies to buy London properties. Last month the government bowed to opposition demands for a review by an independent commission.
The revelation that Imran Khan who is leading a campaign against offshore companies, had himself set one in 1983, provided fuel to government's media cell. Maryam Nawaz, daughter of the premier who owns two offshore companies, gleefully tweeted: "Imran Khan is founder of offshore companies in Pakistan". Mohammed Zubair, another member of the cell, said the news is "music in my ears".
Information Minister Pervez Rashid called Imran Khan "king of offshore companies", adding that six such companies were owned by other PTI leaders.
PTI spokesman Naeemul Haq reacted sharply and explained that Imran's company was registered in London and was not offshore. He did not hide it. "What the prime minister and his children were hiding," he asked.
Reports emerged on Thursday that Imran had created the company, Niazi Services Limited, in 1983 and registered in Jersey, Channel Islands. Imran used the company to purchase a flat in May 1984. Imran was playing cricket in England in those days.
(With input from agencies)