Pakistan

LAHORE (Staff Report) – While Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s son Hussain Nawaz has accepted ownership of offshore companies as exposed in Panama Papers, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah has termed the huge documents leak as ‘satanic leaks.’

Talking to newsmen in Lahore, Rana said that few ‘satans’ are trying to create a fuss over the Panama Papers but the balloon has been punctured already. The Panama Papers leak is an attempt to derail the economic progress of Pakistan, he further added.

Contrary to Rana’s ironic stance,  on the same issue, Hussain Nawaz -the son of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif- on Monday said that he openly accepts the ownership of all of his offshore companies, further adding that none of his businesses abroad are illegal.

To a question, he said that he never denied ownership of his businesses abroad and former President Pervez Musharraf also investigated into his companies but found nothing irregular.

Interestingly, when former Home Minister and senior Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Senator Rehman Malik was asked about allegations leveled against him in the documents leak, he termed Panama Papers a conspiracy of Indian intelligence agency RAW (Research and Analysis Wing) to involve him in a controversy.

Responding a query, he, however, also accepted that he owned Petrofine FZC oil company, further adding that it was not involved in any shady business. It was a United Arab Emirates (UAE) firm and worked in accordance with the local laws, he explained.

According to documents shared by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Pakistan’s two-time Prime Minister and Chairperson of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Benazir Bhutto -who was assassinated by Taliban in 2007- was also among the clients of Mossack Fonseca (MF) along with her close aide Senator Rehman Malik and nephew Hassan Ali Jaffery Bhutto.

The leak said that Bhutto and her partners paid huge bribes to then Iraqi government -led by President Saddam Hussain- in 2000 to win oil contracts for their Sharjah based company Petrofine FZC and later established a company named Petroline International Incorporation in British Virgin Islands in 2001.

Mossack Fonseca’s (MF) records suggest that Benazir Bhutto’s second company, Petroline International Incorporation, was refused to be accepted as client by the law firm for being a politically sensitive group.

In 2005, an investigation into United Nation’s oil-for-food program in Iraq revealed that Bhutto’s firm paid US$ 2 million to President Saddam Hussain and in return they earned oil contracts of worth US$115-145 million. The probe was led by former head of US federal reserves Paul Volker.

In the later year, 2006, Pakistan’s National Accountability Bureau (NAB) also claimed that Petrofine FZC was owned by Benazir Bhutto but she and her party, PPP, strongly dismissed the charges and called it an political conspiracy against them.

Mossack Fonseca also revealed that Pakistan’s incumbent Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his sons Hussain Nawaz and Hasan Nawaz, and daughter Mariam Safdar set up at least four offshore companies in British Virgin Islands (BVI). These companies owned at least six upmarket properties overlooking London’s Hyde Park.

Sharif family mortgaged four of these properties to the Deutsche Bank (Suisse) SA for a loan of GBP 7 million and the Bank of Scotland part financed the purchase of two other apartments.