After‘Panama’ now ‘Paradise’ exposes grimy rich

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ICIJ releases data about offshore companies, 135 Pakistanis including Shaukat Aziz, Ayaz Niazi, 700 Indians including Amitabh Bachchan, Vijay Mallya, Sanjay Dutt’s wife Dilnasheen, Queen Elizabeth, Queen Noor, Rex Tillerson named in list

LONDON: The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which released Panama leaks, has now dropped another bombshell on hundreds of world’s rich and influential individuals who secretly invested vast amounts of cash in offshore tax havens.
Paradise Papers, as this leak has been named, is a database of around 13.4 million documents revealing over 25,000 offshore companies owned or shared by politicians, corporations and celebrities from around the world. Dubbed the Paradise Papers, the leaks consist of 13.4 million filesfrom “a combination of offshore service providers and the company registries ofsome of the world’s most secretive countries”.
Spanning 180 countries and corresponding to the period from 1950 to 2016, the list realised Sunday night includes former Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and former National Insurance Corporation Limited chairperson Ayaz Khan Niazi.
As many as 127 politicians and public officials (14 of them current or former country leaders) from more than 47 countries have been named in the Paradise Papers. Among the world leaders named in the new leak are British Queen Elizabeth II, Queen Noor of Jordan, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau’s adviser and close friend Stephen Bronfman.
Among the former heads of government named in Paradise Papers are former Canadian prime ministers Paul Martin and Brian Mulroney, Former Japanese Premier Yukio Hatoyama, and Liberia ex-president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. The list also includes world renowned singers Madonna and Bono, and Tech mogul Yuri Milner. Around 381 investigative journalists from 67 countries worked extensively to bring facts about the Paradise Papers before the people.
The leak, which includes 13.4 million documents, comprises a major part of documents leaked from company ‘Appleby’. The documents were obtained from two companies in Singapore and Bermuda by a German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared with the ICIJ. Pakistanis named Names of two prominent Pakistanis have so far emerged in the new ICIJ release. According to documents, former Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz has been found linked with Antarctic Trust. Aziz had set up the trust in Delaware (USA) in his wife’s name before becoming finance minister.
Its beneficiaries include Aziz’s wife, and their children and granddaughter. Interestingly, the trust was neither declared during his stint as finance minister nor as prime minister. Aziz served as prime minister from August 28, 2004, to November 15, 2007 and was appointed as finance minister in 1999. He settled abroad after his tenure came to an end in 2007. Speaking through his attorney in New York, Shaukat Aziz told a local TV channel that he didn’t have to declare the trust in Pakistan as he was a ‘settler’. When asked if his wife or children declared the trust, he responded that they didn’t have to do that because they were beneficiaries and not the beneficial owners.
Antarctic Trust was closed in Sept 2015.The ICIJ maintained that the Antarctic Trust held most of Mr Aziz’s assets earned when he worked at Citicorp and was created before he relocated to Pakistan to be appointed finance minister. The purpose was “to insure that if he were to die, his assets would pass efficiently to his family,” Mr Aziz’s lawyer told the ICIJ. When asked by the consortium why his asset declarations in Pakistan didn’t mention the Antarctic Trust, the lawyer said the “legal owner” of the trust was Citicorp Trust Delaware N.A., not Mr Aziz, and that Mr Aziz and his family members paid all US taxes they owed. Cititrust is an affiliate of Citicorp where Mr Aziz was an executive, and managed his personal assets for many years, the lawyer said.
Former chairman of the National Insurance Corporation Limited, Ayaz Khan Niazi, is also named in the Paradise Papers, Mr Umer Cheema said. Ayaz Khan Niazi Former National Insurance Corporation Limited (NICL) chairpersonAyaz Khan Niazi has also been identified in the records in connection with four offshore holdings in British Virgin Islands. One of them was a trust, Andalusian Discretionary Trust, while the other three were set up as companies: Andalusian Establishment Limited, Andalusian Enterprises Limited and Andalusian Holdings Limited. All the three companies were set up in 2010 when Ayaz Niazi was the chairperson of NICL. In the record, however, his two brothers, Hussain Khan Niazi and Muhammad Ali Khan Niazi, were shown as the beneficial owners, whereas Ayaz himself, his father Abdul Razaq Khan and mother Fauzia Razzaq acted as directors. Action in Pakistan The country’s tax machinery is ready to issue notices to all Pakistani residents whose investments in offshore companies have been revealed in the Paradise Papers. “We held an informal meeting today on the issue,” a source in the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) told Dawn on Monday. As it did with the Panama Papers investigation, the FBR will allow its Intelligence & Investigation Wing to issue notices to all those who were identified in the fresh leaks and named in media reports.
“We will adopt the same pattern used in the wake of the Panama Papers,