Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif addressed the nation by television on Tuesday to defend his family’s business practices, rejecting any wrongdoing and describing corruption allegations as “old accusations repeated over and over again."
Sharif formed a commission on Tuesday to probe into allegations, based on leaked documents from Panama , that offshore companies headed by members of his family were avoiding paying taxes or disguising assets and their origins.
On Monday, leaked documents from the Panama-based Mossack Fonseca law firm showed that Sharif's daughter Mariam and sons Hussain and Hassan owned at least three offshore holding companies registered in the British Virgin Islands. Mossack Fonseca denied any wrongdoing.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists(ICIJ) claimed these companies were involved in the purchase and mortgage of at least $13.8 million in UK properties.
One of the holding companies also purchased another, Liberia-based, holding company for $11.2 million in August 2007, according to the documents.
The documents do not show the source of the assets held by the holding companies. They are part of a tranche of 11.5 million documents, which show an alleged network of offshore tax fortunes linked to world leaders and celebrities, leaked by the ICIJ, dubbed the 'Panama Papers'.
According to the documents, 140 political figures - including 12 current or former heads of state - are involved in the alleged network. The leak constitutes 2.6 terabytes of data.
Political opponents in Pakistan, notably Imran Khan, have accused Sharif's family of having gained the funds illegally through corruption during his two previous stints as prime minister in the 1990s.
Sharif and his family have denied any wrongdoing, stating the assets were gained legally, mainly through the family's network of businesses and industries in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
"I say that those who are repeating tired accusations should go before this commission and prove their accusations," Sharif said in his televised speech.