LAHORE (Staff Report) – The world is in shock after exploring a tiny fraction of Panama Papers, 2.6 terabyte confidential leak in total, published by International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). The matter is worth investigation as well, as thousands of offshore companies were established in cooperation with Mossack Fonseca (MF) with the purpose of evading taxes and facilitating money laundering.
When it comes to the Pakistani owners of these questionable firms, people from every segment of life appear to be involved. The published documents suggest that over 200 Pakistanis were directly involved in these shady businesses, and more names might soon pour in with thousands of documents yet to be made public.
Interestingly, although the papers feature businesses from 1977 to 2015, the Pakistani names start appearing in years after 1990.
Which Pakistani owns most offshore companies?
Media reports mainly focused on the companies owned by Sharif family, but surprisingly they are not the ones to own most offshore companies from Panama Papers. It is the Saifullah family of Lakki Marwat city of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The family owns at least 34 offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands, Seychelles, Hong Kong, Singapore and Ireland.
These companies are named after Senator Osman Saifullah, Salim Saifullah, Anwar Saifullah, Humayun Saifullah, Javed Saifullah, Dr Iqbal Saifullah and Jehangir Saifullah.
Politicians and their relatives:
In Pakistan, the debate related to offshore companies from Panama Papers is largely confined to political figures only, which is the main profession of the country’s most powerful families.
According to Panama Papers, some offshore companies owned by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s son Hussain Nawaz and daughter Mariam Safdar alias Maryam Nawaz Sharif; and assassinated Chairperson of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Benazir Bhutto, her close aide Senator Rehman Malik and her nephew Hassan Bhutto. Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s relatives Ilyas Mehraj and Samina Durrani also feature in the list. However, interestingly, no company was found to be registered in names of Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif themselves.
Other political names include Pakistan Muslim League(Q) President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain’s close relative Waseem Gulzar and Zain Sukhera – a close friend of former Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani’s son. Sukhera was also co-accused in Hajj Corruption Scandal along with Gilani’s son.
Most of Pakistani names featured in Panama Papers are businessmen and include almost every renowned businessman of the country, including:
- Sadruddin Hashwani and son Murtaza Hashwani of Hashoo Group
- Malik Riaz Hussain’s son Ahmed Ali Riaz of Behria Town
- Hussain Dawood of Engro Corporation Limited
- Abdullah family (Yousuf Abdullah, Shahid Abdullah, Nadeem Abdullah, Amer Abdullah) of Sapphire Textiles
- Gul Muhammad Tabba of Lucky Textiles
- Shahid Nazir of Masood Textiles
- Shehbaz Yasin Malik and family of Hilton Pharma
- Sultan Ali Allana of Habib Bank Limited
- Shahid Nazir and family of Masood Textile Mills
- Bashir Ahmed and Javed Shakoor of Buxly Paints
- Dr. Mehmood Ahmed of Berger Paints
- Azam Sultan of ABM Group of Companies
- Aqueel Hassan and his brother Tanwir Hassan of Pizza Hut (Pakistan)
- Zulfiqar Paracha of Universal Corporation (Pvt) Ltd
- Abdul Rashid Soorty and family of Soorty Enterprise
Several owners of Pakistan based media groups were also found owning offshore companies. Among them Zulfiqar Lakhani, who owns Lakson Group and Express media group, was on top. Gohar Ejaz, who maintains an image of property tycoon and is financier of Channel 24 as well, was also in the list. Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman of Jang and Geo Group also established an offshore company in early 2000s.
Many lawyers and top judges also own offshore firms, according to Panama Papers. The name of Justice Farrukh Irfan, currently serving in Lahore High Court (LHC), was also on the list while Justice(retd) Malik Qayyum is also among owners of offshore companies.