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Paradise Papers: Names of 135 Pakistanis figure in leaked documents

A total of 135 Pakistani individuals, including top politicians such as former premier Shaukat Aziz, with accounts in Swiss banks have been named in the Paradise Papers.

world Updated: Nov 07, 2017 11:53 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad
File photo of former Pakistan prime minister Shaukat Aziz.
File photo of former Pakistan prime minister Shaukat Aziz.(AFP)

A total of 135 Pakistani individuals, including top politicians such as former premier Shaukat Aziz, with accounts in Swiss banks created in their own name or through offshore companies have been named in the Paradise Papers.

Aziz’s name was found linked with two trusts, one set up by Citibank in the Bahamas called Cititrust. Aziz was a senior executive of the bank at the time of the formation of this trust, The News daily, which had access to the leaked documents, reported on Monday.

The other entity, Antarctic Trust, was created by Aziz on his own and Rukhsana Aziz, his wife, and three children were its beneficiaries. Shortly before becoming finance minister, he set up this trust in Delaware but it was managed from Bermuda. This trust was not declared during his stints as finance minister and prime minister.

Aziz’s attorney told The News he didn’t have to declare his assets in Pakistan because he was the settlor of the trust. He added that his wife or children too didn’t have to make a declaration because they were beneficiaries and not beneficial owners.

“Mr Aziz created the Antarctic Trust shortly before becoming finance minister of Pakistan to insure that if he were to die, his assets would pass efficiently to his family. Since he was the target of more than one assassination attempt while he served in Pakistan, his concern was well founded,” his attorney said.

Another Pakistani, Ayaz Khan Niazi, was identified in the documents in connection with four offshore holdings in the British Virgin Islands, including the Andalusian Discretionary Trust. The remaining three were set up as companies.

Their formation dated back to 2010, when Ayaz was a government employee and served as chairman of the state-owned National Insurance Corporation Limited. His two brothers, Hussain Khan Niazi and Muhammad Ali Khan Niazi, acted as beneficial owners of these investments while Ayaz and his parents were directors.

Top Pakistani businessman Sadurddin Hashwani, who owns several leading hotels, had a company each in Barbodas and the Cayman Islands. Documents showed these companies were used for securing hefty loans from Standard Chartered Bank in another offshore jurisdiction, Mauritius, as well as its branch in London.

Mian Muhammad Mansha, chairman of Nishat Group who is considered to be Pakistan’s richest man, was linked to six offshore companies, including four in the British Virgin Islands. Mansha said he had to move to the US in the mid-1990s due to the adverse political situation in Pakistan and his overseas bank accounts were meant to meet daily expenses during that period.

He said these accounts were liquidated a decade ago and the amounts repatriated to Pakistan through official channels and duly recorded in tax returns.

Obaid Altaf Khanani, co-owner of one of Pakistan’s leading exchange companies who was earlier this year sentenced to 68 months in a US jail for conspiracy to commit money laundering, also had a joint account with his mother in a Swiss bank.

Businessman Hussain Dawood was identified in connection with a company registered in the Isle of Man.

A Mauritius-based offshore company, Balyasny SI Limited, invested in an English daily in Pakistan. Balyasny is a wholly owned subsidiary of Shakti Master Fund LP, an exempted limited partnership in Cayman Islands. The Security Exchange Commission of Pakistan had in 2011 inquired about the beneficial ownership of shares held by Balyasny, which responded the shares are owned by the firm.