ISLAMABAD: Top cabinet members, ministers, media moguls, relatives of army officers and powerful businessmen — individuals spanning the entire Pakistani elite have been named in the ‘Pandora Papers’, a major international research into the financial holdings of high-profile figures around the world.
Released by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), the exposé revealed that key members of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s inner circle, including cabinet members, their families, political allies and major financial backers, have secretly owned an array of offshore companies and trusts holding millions of dollars of hidden wealth.
Under the law, setting up of an offshore company is not an offence or crime if the company is not involved in any illegal activity. However, those who have not declared these companies in their returns as assets can face legal action.
Although complete data has not been made public by the ICIJ as yet, following are the names of all Pakistani individuals in the Pandora Papers revealed so far by the ICIJ and The News journalists, who were part of the investigation:
Politicians or politically exposed persons:
Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin and his family
Minister for Water Resources Moonis Elahi
Ex-federal minister and Senator Faisal Vawda
Son of PM’s former adviser for finance and revenue Waqar Masood Khan, Abdullah Masood Khan
Family of Minister for Industries and Production Khusro Bakhtiyar
PTI leader Abdul Aleem Khan
PPP’s Sharjeel Memon
PML-N’s Ishaq Dar’s son Ali Dar
PTI donor Arif Naqvi
PTI donor Tariq Shafi
Wife of PML-Q boss Chaudhry Pervez Elahi
Former FBR chairman and finance secretary Salman Siddiq’s son Yawar Salman
Army officers or their family members
Wife of retired Lt Gen Shafaat Ullah Shah
Raja Nadir Pervez, retired army officer and former minister
Retired Maj Gen Nusrat Naeem, former ISI director general of counterintelligence
Umar and Ahad Khattak, sons of former Pakistan Air Force chief Abbas Khattak
Retired Lt Gen Habibullah Khan Khattak’s daughter Shahnaz Sajjad Ahmad (also the sister of retired Lt Gen Ali Kuli Khan and sister-in-law of former federal minister Gohar Ayub Khan)
Retired Lt Gen Muhammad Afzal Muzaffar’s son Muhammad Hasan Muzaffar
Retired Lt Gen Khalid Maqbool’s son-in-law Ahsan Latif
Retired Lt Gen Tanvir Tahir’s wife Zahra Tanvir
Axact CEO Shoaib Sheikh
National Bank of Pakistan President Arif Usmani
National Investment Trust Managing Director Adnan Afridi
Peshawar Zalmi owner and renowned industrialist Javed Afridi
Jang Group publisher Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman
Dawn Media Group CEO Hameed Haroon
Express Media Group publisher Sultan Ahmed Lakhani
Pakistan Today publisher (late) Arif Nizami
The Gourmet Group, which also owns the GNN TV channel
Flat for wife of Pakistani general
The investigation revealed that “a luxury London apartment was transferred from the son of a famous Indian movie director to the wife of a three-star general”. This was “one of several offshore holdings involving military leaders and their families”, the ICIJ said.
The general told ICIJ the property purchase was disclosed and proper; his wife did not reply.
According to details, the wife of retired Lt Gen Shafaat Ullah Shah, a former aide to then-president Pervez Musharraf, acquired a $1.2 million apartment in London “through a discreet offshore transaction” in 2007.
The investigation found that the property was transferred to Lt Gen Shah’s wife by an offshore company owned by Akbar Asif, the son of the Indian film director K Asif. Akbar himself is a businessman who owns restaurants in London and Dubai, the Papers reveal.
According to the report, the leaked documents showed that Asif owned a multimillion-dollar property portfolio through a web of offshore companies.
It was through one of these companies, Talah Ltd. — registered in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) — that Akbar transferred the London apartment to Shafaat Shah’s wife. The documents show that the apartment, located near the Canary Wharf financial district, was purchased by the company in 2006. The next year, Akbar transferred ownership of the company to Lt Gen Shah’s wife.
Intrestingly, the investigation found that Akbar’s sister, Heena Kausar, “is the widow of Iqbal Mirchi, a senior figure in a leading organised crime group, D-company”.
At the time, Mirchi was one of India’s most wanted men and was under sanction as a drug trafficker by the US. He passed away in 2013.
According to the ICIJ report, Lt Gen Shah told the investigators that the apartment’s purchase was made “through a former army colleague then acting as a consultant to London real estate firms, not through any personal connection to Asif”. He added that the flat was purchased in his wife’s name because “I already had properties in my name while she did not have any and to balance tax deductions”.
Lt Gen Shah further said that his wife had never met Akbar and that he had only met him once while an aide to then-president Musharraf. He revealed that the meeting happened when Akbar was lobbying for the release of his father’s film “in the corridors of Dorchester Hotel when he had accompanied the hairstylist, who had come to cut Mrs Musharraf’s hair.”
According to the ICIJ report, Akbar had asked Musharraf to allow the release of one of his father’s movies in Pakistan, where there was a ban on Indian movies. “Musharraf granted the exception and later lifted the ban,” the report states.
Lt Col Raja Nadir Pervez
The Papers also reveal that Raja Nadir Pervez — a retired army lieutenant colonel and later-turned politician, who held various portfolios during the late 80s and early 90s — owned a company registered in the British Virgin Islands, International Finance & Equipment Ltd.
According to the leaked documents, “the firm is involved in machinery and related businesses in India, Thailand, Russia and China”. In 2003, Pervez transferred his shares in the company to a trust that controls several offshore companies.
“One of the trust’s beneficiaries is a British arms dealer. According to UK court documents, one of the trust’s other companies has helped broker arms sales from Belgian manufacturer FN Herstal SA to Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd., a state-owned Indian defence company.
“While he owned International Finance & Equipment, Pervez also held several high-level positions in Pakistan’s government. He was elected to the National Assembly in 1985 and later joined Khan’s party. Pervez did not respond to reporters’ questions.”
Maj Gen Nusrat Naeem
Another key former military leader whose name showed up in the Papers is retired Maj Gen Nusrat Naeem, the ISI’s onetime director general of counterintelligence. “He owned a BVI company, Afghan Oil & Gas Ltd, that was registered in 2009, shortly after his retirement. He said that the company had been set up by a friend and that he didn’t use it for any financial transactions.”
According to the report, Islamabad police later charged Naeem with fraud related to the attempted purchase of a steel mill for $1.7 million, but the case was later dropped.
Meanwhile, the Papers also bring to light the notable offshore holdings of close relatives of three senior military figures.