The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) published research on Sunday that exposed the politicians and billionaires who used offshore entities to hide wealth, carry out secret transactions, and avoid taxes.
The investigation uncovers the shadowy offshore financial system that allows multinational corporations, the rich, famous and powerful to avoid taxes and shield their wealth.
The revelations are part of the Pandora Papers, a new global investigation carried out by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) with the collaboration of 600 journalists around the world.
The investigation, which was the largest ever journalistic collaboration, used 11.9 million records from 14 different offshore services firms, obtained through a data leak.
Prominent politicians and close aides to PM Khan named
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ ‘Pandora Papers’ have revealed the Minister of Finance, Shaukat Tarin, to be among those who reportedly have links to offshore holdings.
More than 700 other Pakistanis have been named in the investigation, including the PPP’s Sharjeel Memon, PTI leader Abdul Aleem Khan, Axact CEO Shoaib Sheikh, Senator Faisal Vawda, PML-Q leader Chaudhry Moonis Elahi, Ishaq Dar’s son, and the family of Minister for Industries and Production Khusro Bakhtiar.
Senior Provincial Minister for Food Abdul Aleem Khan, former Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Waqar Masood Khan’s son, President National Bank of Pakistan Arif Usmani and Managing Director National Investment Trust Adnan Afridi, were also named.
The consortium also released a report revealing that “key members of Khan’s inner circle, including Cabinet ministers, their families and major financial backers have secretly owned an array of companies and trusts holding millions of dollars of hidden wealth”.
The investigation has also implicated military leaders, but there is “no suggestion” that Khan is involved.
Finance Minister Tarin and his family members own four offshore companies, according to the documents. In 2014, the Tarin family incorporated four offshore companies, Triperna Inc, Hamraa Inc, Seafex Inc and Moonen Inc., in the British Virgin Islands.
In a statement responding to the allegations, Tarin said “The off-shore companies mentioned were incorporated as part of the fund-raising process for my bank”. He added that he “has done nothing wrong and is ready for any kind of investigation”.
The documents also show that Arif Naqvi, PTI’s top donor for the 2013 elections, owns several offshore companies. He transferred ownership of three luxury apartments, his country estate, and a property in London’s suburbs to an offshore trust owned by Deutsche Bank.
The former federal Minister for Water Resources, Faisal Vawda, also started an offshore company in 2012, according to the ICIJ.
The consortium reported that PML-Q leader Chaudhry Moonis Elahi had “planned to put the proceeds from an allegedly corrupt business deal into a secret trust, concealing them from Pakistan’s tax authorities”.
Elahi has been linked to several fraud and corruption allegations in the past years, but was recently appointed Minister for Water Resources by PM Khan.
According to the papers, the brother of federal industries minister Khusro Bakhtiar, Omer Bakhtiar, had used an offshore company to transfer a $1 million apartment in London’s Chelsea area to mother in 2018.
Ali Dar, former finance minister Ishaq Dar’s son, also owns two companies, Baraq Holdings Ltd and Dar Al Nahyan Lt, registered in the British Virgin Islands.
In the same jurisdiction, former Sindh government information minister, Sharjeel Inam Memon, is also shown to own three offshore companies.
Military leaders and families implicated
The ICIJ’s Panama Papers also revealed “several offshore holdings involving military leaders and their families”.
These include former corps commander’s wife and son, Lt Gen (retd) Muhammad Afzal Muzaffar’s son, Major General (retd) Nusrat Naeem, Lt Gen (retd) Khalid Maqbool’s son-in-law, Lt-Gen (retd) Tanvir Tahir’s wife, Lt-Gen (retd) Ali Kuli Khan’s sister, Air Chief Marshal Abbas Khattak’s sons and retired army officer and politician Raja Nadir Pervez.
Lt. Gen. Shafaat Ullah Shah was shown to have transferred a $1.2 million London apartment to his wife in 2007.
In addition, Raja Nadir Pervez, a retired army lieutenant colonel, owned a company registered in the British Virgin Islands. He had transferred his company shares to a trust that operates several offshore companies.
The ICIJ added, “Umar and Ahad Khattak, sons of the former head of Pakistan’s air force, Abbas Khattak, in 2010 registered a BVI company to invest what documents call ‘family business earnings’ in stocks, bonds, mutual funds and real estate”.
The ISI’s former general of its Counter-Intelligence Wing, Maj Gen. Nusrat Naeem, has also been exposed for owning an offshore company called Afghan Oil & Gas Ltd.
Meanwhile, Shahnaz Sajjad Ahmad, the daughter of a retired lieutenant general, inherited wealth through offshore trusts, and later set up similar trusts for her daughters.
Ahsan Latif, son-in-law of former Governor Punjab Lt General (retd) Khalid Maqbool, also owned an offshore company, Dylan Capital Limited, in the British Virgin Islands.
Furthermore, the son of Lt General (retd) Muhammad Afzal Muzaffar, Muhammad Hasan Muzaffar, was shown to own shares in a company registered in the British Virgin Islands,
Media tycoons, renowned journalists called out
Apart from politicians and military leaders, the ICIJ revealed a number of prominent media owners who own offshore companies.
Hameed Haroon, the CEO of Dawn media group, owns an offshore company, Bardney Ltd., in Seychelles. Meanwhile, Express Media Group Sultan Ali Lakhani owns an offshore company named Century Media Network Inc.
In addition, Jang Group’s Publisher Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman owns an offshore company Brookwood Ventures Limited in the British Virgin Islands. Similarly, the late Arif Nizami, owner of Pakistan Today, owned New Mile Production Limited in the same jurisdiction.
Meanwhile, in 2011, the Managing Director of National Investment Trust Adnan Afridi registered an offshore company Veritas Advisory Services Ltd in the British Virgin Islands.
In addition, the documents mention that Javed Afridi, the owner of Pakistan Super League (PSL) franchise, Peshawar Zalmi, owns three offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands
PM Khan promises accountability
PM Imran Khan responded to the expose, tweeting that his government will investigate all individuals mentioned in the Pandora Papers.
We welcome the Pandora Papers exposing the ill-gotten wealth of elites, accumulated through tax evasion & corruption & laundered out to financial "havens". The UN SG's Panel FACTI calculated a staggering $7 trillion in stolen assets parked in largely offshore tax havens.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) October 3, 2021
My govt will investigate all our citizens mentioned in the Pandora Papers & if any wrongdoing is established we will take appropriate action. I call on the international community to treat this grave injustice as similar to the climate change crisis.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) October 3, 2021
The investigation has exposed politicians, billionaires, and celebrities around the world for illegal financial transactions and tax evasion.