The Pandora Papers, a major international research into the financial secrets held by high-profile individuals around the world, includes the names of more than 700 Pakistanis.
The consortium 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.” Besides, retired government officials, former and incumbent bureaucrats, businessmen and media moguls are also mentioned in the report.
Following are the names of business personalities and media moguls mentioned in the Pandora Papers, released by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
1. PTI donor Arif Naqvi
Naqvi, the financier and major donor to Prime Minister Imran’s 2013 election campaign, owned several offshore companies. The files show that in 2017, Naqvi transferred ownership of UK holdings – three luxury apartments, his country estate and a property in London’s suburbs – into an offshore trust operated by Deutsche Bank.
According to the report, Deutsche Bank declined to respond to ICIJ’s questions concerning the beneficiaries of the trust. The next year, Naqvi presided over the spectacular collapse of his Dubai-based private equity firm, Abraaj Group, which also owns K-Electric.
2. Jang Group publisher Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman
The report revealed that Rehman owns an offshore company named Brookwood Ventures Limited in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) — he was transferred the shares on April 17, 2008.
When contacted by The News, he was hesitant to answer, claiming that his company was already declared so there was no point in answering the question. “No, it’s not true, I don’t own any company. However, I had this till 2018,” he told The News when the investigation cell sent him a questionnaire.
3. Dawn Media Group CEO Hameed Haroon
Meanwhile, Dawn’s CEO owned an offshore company called Bardney Limited that was registered in Seychelles, the report said. According to his official response, the company was “duly declared” and being reported to the relevant Pakistani authorities in accordance with the law.
4. Express Media Group publisher Sultan Ahmed Lakhani
Similarly, Lakhani owned an offshore company Century Media Network Inc that was incorporated in February 2005 — Lakhani owned shares in the company with Muhammad Anwer Abdullah. A spokesperson for the Lakhani family told that “all companies are legal” and in accordance with applicable laws.
5. The Gourmet Group, which also owns the GNN TV channel
The report added that the Gourmet group, which owns TV channel GNN, also owned an offshore company, Gourmet Holdings Limited in the BVI jurisdiction, and had appointed an employee, Amna Butt, as its director.
6. Pakistan Today publisher (late) Arif Nizami
Renowned journalist and editor of Pakistan Today, the late Arif Nizami was also among those who had their names in the report. He owned New Mile Production Limited in BVI that was incorporated in July 2000 with him and his wife declared as its beneficial owners.
“The documents reveal that the estimated value of these assets at that time was $1.6 million. It is, however, not clear whether the company is declared with the tax authorities in Pakistan or not,” the report said.
7. Peshawar Zalmi owner Javed Afridi
Javed Afridi, owner of the Peshawar Zalmi franchise, also owns three offshore companies according to revelations from the Pandora Papers: Old Trafford Properties Ltd, Sutton Gas Works Properties Ltd and Gas Works Property Ltd.
The News report said he confirmed his ownership of the companies, explaining that the reason behind incorporating them was for the “good intention to save tax rather than avoiding any tax”.
“According to him, the companies were almost dormant, and no business or investment was done by any of the companies,” the report said.
8. National Bank of Pakistan President Arif Usmani
According to the report, National Bank President Arif Usmani incorporated a company, Sasa Partners Inc, in the BVI offshore tax havens in March 2018. It added that the Pandora Papers revealed him to be the company’s beneficial owner where he kept bankable assets.
Usmani was questioned on a number of issues by The News to which he responded that all his tax records had been provided to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and every asset he owned — internationally or locally — was declared in his wealth statements filed with the FBR.
Other names include in Pandora Papers:
Axact CEO Shoaib Sheikh
National Investment Trust Managing Director Adnan Afridi