International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has unearthed another set of leaked documents ‘Bahamas Leaks’ Which has named around 150 more Pakistanis linked with offshore companies in the Bahamas.
The BahamasLeak is separate from the Panama Papers. The German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung obtained the Bahamas data from a whistleblower and shared it with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) 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, around 150 Pakistanis have been identified as directors of nearly 70 companies.
Earlier, 400 Pakistanis owning offshore companies in different tax havens were found from Panama Papers. If combined together with the latest entries from the Bahamas list, around 550 Pakistanis have been identified in this connection since April this year.
Included among them is Obaid Altaf Khanani, son of money changer Altaf Khanani who is presently in custody of the US that slapped sanctionsfinancing charges.
Professor Khurshid Ahmed, a former senator of Jamaat-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, Mulla Abdul Zaeef.
Among the notable business families is the one that has many businesses right from financial institutions 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. Raza, Hasnain, Rafique, Hyder, Imran, Aun and Sajjad are prominent among them.
A tycoon of construction industry Mohsin 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 Punjab Chief Minister (from second wife Tehmina Durrani), 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 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 during the Prevez Musharraf regime, Naseer Khan whose degree was found ‘spurious, has the name of his son, Gibran, 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 industries (Arshad, Amjad, Abid and Ahmed), mills (Salim, Hamida), taxtile (Enam, Shaukat and Shafqat), chemicals (Spenta and Danus), steels (Sultan, Irshad, Yasmeen and Farhana) and securities (Naushad).
None of them responded to the questions sent for the version except Hamdia who said the company was dissolved without doing any business. Several politicians of other countries have been named in the BahamasLeaks. Former EU Competition Commissioner, Neelie Kroes, former Columbian 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 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 America, Africa, Europe, Asia and the Middle East, according to ICIJ.
“Corporate registries are incredibly important,” said Debra LaPrevotte, a former US 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.
The influential political personalities surfacing in Bahamas Leaks include Amber Rudd, the British Home Secretary, who allegedly owns two firms, “The Guardian” has revealed.
“The Guardian” states: “The files name Rudd as having been a director of two Bahamas companies, Advanced Asset Allocation Fund and Advanced Asset Allocation Management, between 1998 and 2000. Records at Companies House also identify her as a director of Monticello plc, which became the centre of an investigation into share ramping after one of her co-directors, Mark O’Hanlon, gave an interview in January 2000 in which he made false claims about the company’s prospects.”
The newspaper adds: “When asked if she had money in any offshore trusts herself, Rudd replied: “I don’t, no. But I’m pleased to say that all MPs have a very transparent system. They have to disclose their funds, their income, and of course famously a very clear expenses regulatory system.”
She did not mention her previous role running a Bahamas fund. A spokesperson for the home secretary said: “It is a matter of public record that Amber had a career in business before entering politics. Monticello was thoroughly investigated 16 years ago and those who acted wrongly were identified and prosecuted.”