Bahamas Leaks expand offshore club of Pakistani elite

Guardian

Politicians, a judge, business tycoons, criminals named

581 Pakistanis identified so far since April 2013

Umar Cheema

ISLAMABAD:-While probe into Panama Papers remains a non-starter even after six- month, another cache of leaked documents has named around 150 more Pakistanis linked with offshore companies in the Bahamas, a constellation of over 700 islands, located 12,900 kilometers away from Pakistan.
The Bahamas Leak is separate from Panama Papers. The German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung obtained the Bahamas data from a whistleblower and shared it with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and its media partners. The News is the only partner from Pakistan.
The Bahamas is one of a handful of micro nations south of the United States, notes ICIJ, whose confidentiality laws and reluctance to share information with foreign governments gave rise to the term “Caribbean curtain.”

Out of 175,000 companies incorporated in Bahamas between 1959 and 2016, as many as 143 Pakistanis have been identified directors of nearly 70 companies.
Earlier, 400 Pakistanis owning offshore companies in different tax-havens were found from Panama Papers. Before that, an offshore leak made public in April 2013 named 38 Pakistanis. If combined together with the latest entries from the Bahamas list, around 581 Pakistanis have been identified in this connection since April 2013.

Pakistanis named
Included among those named in Bahamas Leaks is Obaid Altaf Khanani, son of a notorious money changer Altaf Khanani who is presently in custody of the US that slapped sanctions against his business on terror financing charges.
Professor Khurshid Ahmed, a former senator of Jama’at-e-Islami, has been identified as a director of a bank registered in the Bahamas as offshore company that faced sanctions of UN and US after 9/11 along with its Eritrean-Italian owner Ahmed Idrees Nasreddin. Khurshid, though admitted having served as director, said he didn’t have any financial stake in it and played only advisory role.
Ahmed Ratab Popel, an influential Afghan businessman with a Pakistani address, who was charged for heroin smuggling and faced corruption allegations, has also been identified as director of a company co-owned by his brother. He is the cousin of former Afghan president Hamid Karzai and the former confidante of last Taliban ambassador to Pakistan, Mullah Abdul Zaeef.
Among the notable business families, House of Habib tops the list. The family is into so many businesses right from banking to insurance, asset management and others. Its 15 members own six offshore companies in the Bahamas alone. Questions sent for version have not been responded. Ali Raza D. Habib, Hasnain A. Habib, Rafique M. Habib, Muhammad Hyder Habib, Imran A. Habib, Aun M. Habib and Sajjad Habib are prominent among them.
A tycoon of construction industry and former chairman of Association of Builders and Developers (ABAD), Mohsin Abu Bakar Sheikhani is also a director of a Bahamas-based company.
A judge of Lahore High Court, Mohammed Farrukh Irfan, has resurfaced in the Bahamas list in connection with a company earlier identified in the Panama Papers. He remained director of the company after induction as high court judge for almost a year before transferring in the name of his daughter. Another company owned by him is registered in the British Virgin Island. In the clarification sent in the past, the family said that no law was violated.
The mother-in-law of Chief Minister Punjab (from second wife), Samina Durrani, have made in the Bahamas list with regard to a company whose ownership was kept anonymous. Email exchanges found in the Panama Papers had established that it was belonged to her that she used for purchasing a property and opening a bank account in London. Questions sent then have never been replied.
Former health minister of Shaukat Aziz cabinet, Naseer Khan whose degree was found ‘spurious, has the name of his son, Gibran Khan, resurfaced in Bahamas documents. The company’s record was earlier found in Panama Papers.
Other prominent businessmen found in Bahamas documents are the owners of Daikool Industries Limited (Sheikh Arshad Farooq, Amjad Farooq, Abid Farooq and Ahmed AMjad Farooq), Liberty Mills Limited (Salim Mukaty, Hamida S. Mukaty), Nagina Group (Enam Ellahi Sheikh, Shaukat Ellahi Sheikh and Shafqat Ellahi Sheikh), Captain-PQ Chemical Industries (Spenta Kandawalla and Danus Kandawalla), Razaque Steels (Sultan Mowjee, Irshad Mowjee, Yasmeen Mowjee and Farhana Mowjee) and Standard Capital Securities (Naushad Haroon Chamdia).
None of them responded to the questions sent for the version except Chamdia who said the company was dissolved without doing any business.

Several politicians of other countries have been named in the Bahamas Leaks. Former EU Competition Commissioner, Neelie Kroes, former Coumbian minister for mines and energy, Carlos Cabellero, the son of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, are among them.
The Bahamas was also linked to the dealings of five politicians and public officials revealed in the Panama Papers, explained ICIJ.

They include Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani , Qatar’s former prime minister and foreign minister until 2013, owned Trick One Limited, a Bahamas company. In January 2005, when foreign minister, Al Thani signed a loan agreement with a bank for $53 million. As collateral on the loan, Al Thani signed up the Al Marqab, a 133-meter, prize-winning yacht worth $300 million.

Argentina’s president, Mauricio Macri, his father Francisco and brother Mariano, directed Fleg Trading Ltd, set up in the Bahamas in 1998 and dissolved 11 years later. Macri did not disclose his connection to Fleg Trading in asset declarations in 2007 and 2008 when he was mayor of Buenos Aires.
The Bahamas was also where meetings and documents were held for Blairmore Holdings Inc., the investment fund directed by Ian Cameron, father of former British Prime Minister David Cameron. Ian Cameron died on Sept. 8, 2010.
The new information reveals previously unknown or little-reported connections to companies owned or run by current or former politicians from the Americas, Africa, Europe, Asia and the Middle East, according to ICIJ.
“Corporate registries are incredibly important,” said Debra LaPrevotte, a former U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation special agent whose work included tracing billions of dollars in bribes and corruption proceeds hidden in tax havens for politicians from Ukraine, Nigeria and Bangladesh. “Offshore companies are often used as intermediaries to facilitate money laundering and, frequently, the companies are only used to open bank accounts, thus the corporate registry documents, which might identify the beneficial owners, are part of the evidence,” he told ICIJ.