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May 9, 2016



Pakistanis in Panama papers: more names named

Imran Khan’s friend, Benazir’s cousin, close friend Zardari and Altaf Hussain, Seth Abid’s son, retired admiral’s son, former MD of Port Qasim Authority, and mother of Oscar award winner Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy figure in the list; more names to appear after thorough investigations

ISLAMABAD: As the much-awaited list of Pakistanis owning offshore companies is released today, the close associates of politicians and families of celebrities are set to capture more attention than the businessmen including those who registered companies only to open accounts in Swiss banks.

Identities of some of the high-profile figures suspected to be linked with offshore companies are still being ascertained and will therefore be published after a complete investigation.

Right from the family of Zulfikar (Zulfi) Bokhari, a close friend of Imran Khan, to Irfan Puri, an oil czar equally close to the PPP/MQM leadership and presently in Dubai jail; from Tariq Islam, a cousin of Benazir Bhutto, to the son of former health minister Naseer Khan; from the family of famous Seth Abid to the son of Admiral (retd) Muzaffar Hassan; and from the Port Qasim Authority’s former MD and NRO beneficiary Abdul Sattar Dero to the former president of Karachi chamber of commerce, Shaukat Ahmed, are in the list.

Mother of Oscar award winner, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy; a billionaire owner of Sachal studio Izzat Majeed; wife of Ghous Akbar; and fashion designer Zehra Valliani along with her brother, an asset manager, Fawaz Valliani have also been identified as owners of offshore companies.

Wamiq Zuberi of the Business Recorder and his wife, Dr. Rukhsana Zuberi, have been identified among those invested in an offshore company, a fact Wamiq acknowledged. He explained that they stopped investing after being defrauded and that the company was owned by somebody else who was murdered in Islamabad.

Abdul Aleem Khan of the PTI continues to claim with confidence that he didn’t figure in the Panama Papers and The News story about his offshore company was based on his assets declarations. In a press conference on Monday Khan held up papers claiming he had declared his shares in the offshore company to Federal Bureau of Revenue.

As far as Sayed Zulfikar Abbas Bokhari (Zulfi Bokhari) is concerned, he has been identified in connection with the offshore companies he own along with his two sisters. There are six companies owned by Zulfi family: K-Factor Limited, Bradbury Resources Ltd, Bayteck Limited, Bayla Trading Limited, Poreim Trading Limited and Ganstam Trading Limited. They could have gone unnoticed had one of his sisters not given address of Islamabad. Probe indicates the house is owned by Zulfi family. Address in London is of Zulfi’s house. Wajid Bokhari, Zulfi’s father, was caretaker minister in the interim setup installed for holding 2008 elections. One of his uncles is sitting PTI MPA from Attock.

Questions were sent to his father for passing them onward to those named in the record. No word has been received as yet.

Ownership of three companies have been identified in connection with Irfan Iqbal Puri, a notorious businessman enjoying equally good relations with Asif Ali Zardari and Altaf Hussain. This oil czar had been openly claiming as business partner of Zardari during the last government of the PPP and held tremendous influence over the working of Pakistan State Oil. In 2004, the NAB filed references against him on the charges of corruption in the PSO. The NAB later entered into a plea bargain but didn’t pay the committed amount. Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan had also investigated him.

At one point, he was a business partner of a former powerful PPP minister. Later, he forged good relations with the MQM chief and reportedly submitted one million pound surety bond for Altaf Hussuain’s bail. Together with his son, Irfan is shareholder of the following companies registered in the British Virgin Islands: IP Commodities Limited, IP Global Limited and Pure Palm Oil Limited.

Link Investments Limited, a company registered in Bahamas, identified Tariq Islam, cousin of Benazir Bhutto, as its owner. As The News contacted for his version, he flatly denied even before getting to know the names of the company.

"I have never had any joint money or business arrangements with Benazir Bhutto nor did I ever act on her account in any capacity", said Tariq Islam. In a statement shared with Geo News, Islam adds, “my name is being dragged for political dramatization and to hurt the reputation of revered cousin BB.” The statement in full can be read here.

Former health minister of Shaukat Aziz government, Naseer Khan, has his family members owning an offshore company, Atwood Investments Limited. His son (Muhammad Jibran) and brother (Zaffarullah Khan) have been identified as shareholders among others. The News sent questions to his brother but didn’t hear back.

Sajid Mahmood, son of famous Seth Abid of Lahore, is owner of Mossgreen Limited, an offshore company registered in British Virgin Islands only last year. Other shareholders of the company are: Akbar Mahmood, Ajaz Mahmood and Bushra Ajaz. The family owns more than 30 companies in Pakistan under the banner of Abid Group.

Destiny Investment Development Limited and Simkins International Limited are two offshore companies owned by an NRO beneficiary and former MD Port Qasim Authority, Abdul Sattar Dero. He is considered very close to Zardari family and look after some businesses in UAE. Among the co-owners of these offshore companies are Zahida Dero, Fahad Sattar Dero and Fawad Sattar Dero. A London-based company: Stevenage Investments Ltd (Russel Bedford House, City Forum, 250 City Road, London, EC1V 2QQ) is also shareholder of the above-mentioned offshore companies of Dero. Who owns Stevenage Investments Ltd remains to be checked. Accounts at foreign banks have also been opened through these offshore companies.

Former president of Karachi chamber, Shaukat Ahmed, has been identified as the owner of Global Link Properties Inc., registered in Seychelles. Among other shareholders are his son, Imran Shaukat and daughter-in-law. Imran is also one of three shareholders in yet another company, Emirates International Holdings Limited, along with Rashid Bashir and Khurshid Ahmed Sheikh.

Saba Obaid, mother of Oscar-award winning Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, has been identified in connection with three companies: Fabrics International Services Limited, Belize Group Limited and Bella Holding Group Limited.

About the first company, a document indicates that it was set up to “receive commission from a toweling/fabric factory in Pakistan. The company is the authorised agent as far as Pakistan export regulations are concerned and is able to receive commission on exports of goods upto maximum of 7 percent of export consignments.” Source of funds has been described as “personal savings.”

Towellers Limited is a public limited company in Karachi. Saba Obaid and Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy are amongst its various listed shareholders.

About Towellers Limited, a letter reads: “This company was a huge exporter of textiles mainly to the USA to Walmart amongst others.”

Belize Group Limited, another offshore company owned by the Obaid family, owns two properties in New York’s Trump Tower of Donald Trump and are used for rental income. Bella Holding Group Limited of Obaid family has been used for purchasing a residential property in New York. The News sent questions to Saba Obaid. They were never replied. Repeated efforts to reach through phone also went in vain.

The Oscar winner, in a statement clarified that she is not the beneficiary or owner of any of the companies mentioned in the Panama Papers adding that those mentioned in connection with her mother are in compliance with all applicable laws. Her full statement may be accessed here.

Nativus Resources Limited of British Virgin Islands identifies its beneficial owner, Izzat Majeed, a dual national with business stakes in Pakistan. A document indicates that the offshore company’s wealth will be generated from the business conducted in Pakistan. He is a founder of Sachal Studios Orchestra in Pakistan.

Nabila-Matrix Limited, an offshore company of British Virgin Islands, identifies its shareholders as Azfar Hassan (a Lahore-based businessman and son of Admiral (R) Muzaffar Hassan) and Nadeem Iqbal Saigol.

Mehreen Akbar, the wife of Ghous Akbar, has been identified as a shareholder of four companies created for holding properties in UK. Other shareholders are her sisters, Irum and Mahim whereas bearer share certificates have also been issued in the name of AKB Privatebank Zurich AG, Switzerland that is also custodian of the companies accounting record. Mark Investment Limited, IMM Gulf Limited, Indigo Properties Limited and Zarmay Investments Ltd are their companies registered in Republic of Seychelles.

Ghous Akbar told The News that he had nothing to do with the companies operated by his in-laws. Mehreen, his wife who also features in different fashion shows, also disassociated herself. Responding to The News through email, she said she didn’t purchase either shares or the properties. “I can only assume that my one third share may be passed if I choose to accept my inheritance by way of succession and inheritance after our parents.”

Owners of Olympia International, Munir Monnoo and his son, Humayun, set up a company, Clifton Holdings Services Incorporated in Panama. Purpose of setting up the company has been described as “holding a bank account in Switzerland.”

Valliani family has been identified in connection with four companies: European American, Investments Limited, Polenta Capital, Ikogenia Trust and Emirates Commerce Limited. Fawaz Valliani (CEO of Elixir Securities), Zehra Valliani (a fashion and jewellery designer in Islamabad) and their mother, Sameena Valliani.

Upon inquiry, Zehra said Fawaz (her brother) might have formed the companies without her consent and that of her mother. Zehra said she was not in speaking terms with him for last 10 years. When told that all of the companies were set up well before 10 years and in cases her passport was also found along with written notes of her mother, she completely disowned. Fawaz didn’t reply to questions emailed to him. 

DISCLAIMER: It is not necessary that every offshore company is set up illegally

Editorial Note: This story has been updated to omit errors and to incorporate clarifications sent by those mentioned in the earlier story published in TheNews by Umar Cheema.