pic by BERNAMA
THE government will ensure individuals named in Pandora Papers provide an explanation in Parliament once they have been investigated.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar (picture) said he will ensure government agencies such as The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) and Inland Revenue Board (LHDN) initiate investigations on the data.
“I assure you that I will invite all agencies mentioned such as BNM, MACC and LHDN to brief the prime minister (PM) to initiate investigation on Pandora Papers,” he told Dewan Rakyat yesterday.
“We will also discuss and set a date for the outcome of the investigations to be provided in Parliament,” said the minister in a response to a query from Port Dickson MP Datuk Sri Anwar Ibrahim on the matter.
Anwar had asked for assurance from the government to begin investigation on the leaked data as he claimed there have been many reports involving top individuals in the country by the same organisation in past years.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) had obtained more than 11.9 million confidential files shared by an anonymous source, which ICIJ then shared with its partners.
It includes data from 14 offshore service firms that set up shell companies and trusts in tax havens globally.
The data include providers in Singapore which has become among one of the preferred gateways for wealthy Malaysians to transfer their assets to tax havens.
There were also documents with regards to offshore dealings involving high net worth individuals in Malaysia from providers in Hong Kong or in the Caribbean and among the individuals named include Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz, Deputy Finance Minister II Yamani Hafez Musa and Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, among others.
Wan Junaidi told the Dewan Rakyat that the investigations on the data leak which implicated former and current politicians in the country has yet to commence.
“For now, MACC has not started any investigation on the Pandora Papers but MACC is in the process to get further information regarding the leak.
“MACC is also holding discussions with other agencies including BNM to ensure a smooth coordination for the investigation,” he said.
He also said in principle, the use of offshore accounts is not an offence under Malaysian law and actions will be taken if there is any evidence of criminal misconduct by an individual or company.
He added that the BNM had also ramped up efforts in identifying unlicensed fund transfer activities.
“From 2017 until 2020, enforcement activities had been increased with 64 cases charged in court involving RM11 million of compound and forfeiture of assets,” he said.
Meanwhile, in a separate press conference yesterday, Parti Pejuang Tanah Air president and former PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said by law, those named in the papers are not guilty because they can have offshore accounts.
However, he acknowledged that it may be morally inappropriate for politicians to have their money outside of the country.
“Those individuals may have businesses in other countries and make profit there so they have to pay taxes in those countries. If they do come back and bring those profits along with them, they would need to pay different taxes.
“So, they are not committing any crime either in this country or the countries they are doing business in. As we know now, they have not committed any offence,” he said.