LAHORE: The sons of a former Pakistani intelligence chief Gen Akhtar Abdul Rehman, who was named in the ‘Suisse secrets’ leak of banking data, on Monday refuted the claims made by the network of foreign journalists regarding their father’s holdings in Swiss banks.
Former senator Haroon Akhtar Khan, who was also a member of the cabinet of ex-PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, said that reports written on the basis of leaked Credit Suisse data claimed that their father opened a bank account in 1985 and that years later that account held a sizeable sum of money.
When asked to confirm whether his family did have accounts in Credit Suisse, Haroon Akhtar claimed “these accounts do not exist”.
One of his brothers, who asked not to be named, told Dawn that none of the countries that funded the war in Afghanistan had ever accused his late father of misappropriation.
He said that all four brothers left Pakistan to study in Canada in the mid-1970s, while their education was financed through the sale of a plot the family owned in Lahore’s Shadman area. He claimed that their business ventures started with the purchase of a soft drink factory in 1988.
Separately, appearing on the Geo News programme Capital Talk on Monday night, Haroon Akhtar was asked whether he or his family were considering taking any legal action against the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP). To this, he replied: “This option is absolutely open”.
He said he and his brothers were taxpayers whose assets were fully disclosed, adding, “We deal with multinationals, run joint ventures, we are exporters, we have letters of credit in our name and deal with banks day in, day out.”
Mr Haroon contended that people regularly questioned how his family’s businesses were so successful, adding that it was a common belief that since he was in the military, Gen Akhtar must have had a role in promoting their business interests.
He said his father passed away in 1988 and there was no link between the businesses that he and his brothers ran and Gen Akhtar.
OCCRP’s report had stated that one of the two Akhtar family accounts at Credit Suisse — held jointly by three of Akhtar’s sons — was opened on July 1, 1985.
By 2003, this account had at least five million Swiss francs ($3.7 million at the time).
A second account, opened in January 1986 in Akbar’s name alone, was worth more than 9 million Swiss francs by November 2010 ($9.2 million at the time).”
According to globalvillagespace.com, to clarify, Gen Akhtar is among those named in a new extraordinary report of secret banking data dubbed as “Suisse Secrets”. According to the leaked data, Gen Akhtar’s sons held bank accounts in Credit Suisse, one of the world’s most iconic banks. Their father allegedly funneled billions of dollars in those accounts during the 1980s. As a result, the sons of Gen Akhtar have been talking to the media to set the record straight on the allegations in Swiss Leaks.
Former senator Haroon Akhtar Khan rejected the claims made regarding his family in the recent Swiss Leaks. While talking to a private media channel, Haroon Akhtar, who also served as a member of the cabinet of ex-PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi raised questions on the dates mentioned in the Swiss leaks data.
Haroon Akhtar said the Swiss Leaks claim that a bank account was opened in 1985. 15-20 years later, the account held money worth $3.7 million dollars. Therefore, it must be their father’s, Haroon Akhter said.
“My father left this world in 1988. Even if he is being linked to something in 1985, the data should have first mentioned the money in 1985 or 1988,” Haroon Akhtar said.
Haroon Akhtar’s strong response
After the Suisse Leak, the bank released a statement rejecting the allegations. According to the bank, the information in the report is based on, “partial, selective information taken out of context”.
Referring to the bank’s response, Haroon Akhtar said the Suisse Leak is an attempt to deliberately target Pakistan’s intelligence agency, especially in light of the current Ukraine crisis.
“The newspapers said there was never any charge against my father. However today, my father’s photo is everywhere. Who do you think is being targeted here?” Haroon Akhtar said.
He once again reiterated that his family never took part in any illegal activities. Haroon Akhtar firmly rejected the claims, saying his family lives in accordance with the law. Moreover, Haroon Akhtar said he and his family will seriously contemplate legal action against the organization responsible for Suisse Secrets.
A self-described whistle-blower leaked data on more than 18,000 bank accounts, collectively holding more than $100 billion, to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. Pakistani officials, politicians, and businessmen were among the names.
The newspaper shared the data with a nonprofit journalism group, the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), and 46 other news organisations around the world. This included The New York Times which said General Akhtar helped funnel billions of dollars in cash and other aid from the US and other countries to the mujahedeen in Afghanistan to support their fight against the Soviet Union.
Important to note, this is not the first time that a data leak accused Pakistan of corruption. Pakistan’s reputation previously suffered due to the likes of Pandora Papers and Panama Papers.