Biggest ever leak of offshore data exposes financial secrets of rich and powerful
Report named Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin, Punjab Minister Aleem Khan, PML-Q’s Monis Elahi, PTI Senator Faisal Vawda, PPP leader Sharjeel Memon and Ishaq Dar’s son Ali Dar among others linked to offshore companies
Staff Reporter Islamabad
across the world revealed on Sunday night, includes the names of more than 700 Pakistanis, it emerged on Sunday.
Most prominently among these include Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin, Minister for Water Resources Moonis Elahi, Senator Faisal Vawda, Ishaq Dar’s son, PP P’s Sharjeel Memon, the family of Minister for Industries and Production Khusro Bakhtiar, PTI leader Abdul Aleem Khan, among others, with alleged links to offshore companies.
Some retired army officials, businessmen, including Axact’s CEO Shoaib Sheikh, and media company owners, have also been named in the leaks.
The ICIJ released a report on the Pandora Papers titled “Prime Minister Imran Khan promised ‘new Pakistan’ but members of his inner circle secretly moved millions offshore.”
According to the report, leaked documents revealed that “key members” of Prime Minister Imran’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”.
“Military leaders have been implicated as well,” it said, clarifying that the documents contained “no suggestion” that Imran himself owned offshore companies.
Among those named as holding foreign assets are Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin, his family, and the son of Prime Minister Imran’s former adviser for finance and revenue, Waqar Masood Khan.
“The records also reveal the offshore dealings of a top PTI donor, Arif Naqvi, who is facing fraud charges in the United States,” the ICIJ said.
According to the investigation’s findings, Finance Minister Tarin and his family members own four offshore companies.
It quoted Tariq Fawad Malik, a financial consultant who handled the paperwork for the companies, as saying that they were set up as part of the Tarin family’s intended investment in a bank with a Saudi business.
“As a mandatory prerequisite by [the] regulator, we engaged with the Central Bank of Pakistan to obtain their ’in-principle’ approval for the said strategic investment,” Malik said. The deal did not proceed.
Tarin didn’t respond to ICIJ’s questions, but in a statement issued Sunday, he said: “The off-shore companies mentioned were incorporated as part of the fund raising process for my Bank.”
The files show how PML-Q leader Chaudhry Moonis Elahi, “a key political ally of Imran Khan’s, planned to put the proceeds from an allegedly corrupt business deal into a secret trust, concealing them from Pakistan’s tax au-thorities”, according to the consortium.
A family spokesman for the Elahi family told ICIJ’s media partners that, “due to political vic-timisation misleading interpretations and data have been circulated in files for nefarious rea-sons.” He maintained that the family’s assets “are declared as per applicable law”.
The investigation also revealed that “a luxury London apartment was transferred from the son of a famous Indian movie director to the wife of a three-star general”.
This was “one of several off-shore holdings involving military leaders and their families”, the ICIJ said.
The general told ICIJ the property purchase was disclosed and proper; his wife did not reply.
According to the consortium, the Pandora Pa-pers is its most expansive exposé of financial secrecy yet, even larger than its predecessor, the explosive Panama Papers, which had set off alarm bells across the world.
More than 600 reporters from around the world, belonging to 150 media organisations spanning 117 countries, participated in the re-search for two years for the Pandora Papers, which contain 11.9 million files.
Pandora Papers are larger than the Panama Papers in terms of data collection and collabora-tion, made possible by the largest research team in the history of journalism in the world.
The secret deals and hidden assets of some of the world’s richest and most powerful people have been revealed in the biggest trove of leaked offshore data in history.
Branded the Pandora papers, the cache in-cludes 11.9m files from companies hired by wealthy clients to create offshore structures and trusts in tax havens such as Panama, Dubai, Monaco, Switzerland and the Cayman Islands.
They expose the secret offshore affairs of 35 world leaders, including current and former presidents, prime ministers and heads of state.
They also shine a light on the secret finances of more than 300 other public officials such as gov-ernment ministers, judges, mayors and military generals in more than 90 countries.
The files include disclosures about major do-nors to the Conservative party, raising difficult questions for Boris Johnson as his party meets for its annual conference.
More than 100 billionaires feature in the leaked data, as well as celebrities, rock stars and business leaders. Many use shell companies to hold luxury items such as property and yachts, as well as incognito bank accounts.
There is even art ranging from looted Cambodian antiquities to paintings by Picasso and murals by Banksy.