Nov.06

Former PM Shaukat Aziz among scores of global figures exposed in Paradise Papers

Former PM Shaukat Aziz among scores of global figures exposed in Paradise Papers

Former PM Shaukat Aziz among scores of global figures exposed in Paradise Papers

Names of two Pakistanis, former prime minister Shaukat Aziz and ex-chief of the National Insurance Company Limited Ayaz Khan Niazi, have so far emerged in the new database of documents, Paradise Papers, released by the International Consortium of Journalists Sunday night.

The Paradise Papers reveal data of over 25,000 companies spanning 180 countries, from 1950 to 2016.

Around 381 investigative journalists from 67 countries worked extensively to bring facts about the Paradise Papers before the people. Senior News reporter and ICIJ member Umar Cheema was also part of the team which unearthed the Paradise Papers.

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 and shared with the ICIJ.

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Shaukat Aziz

Aziz was an employee of Citibank before becoming Pakistan’s finance minister and then prime minister in General (retd) Pervez Musharraf’s government.

He was one of the shareholders and directors of Bahamas-registered Cititrust Limited from 1997 to 1999, along with other executives of the bank.

In 1999, Aziz was appointed finance minister and created the Antarctic Trust. The Antarctic Trust’s beneficiaries include Aziz’s wife, their children and granddaughter.

Aziz had set up the trust in Delaware (USA) before becoming finance minister. Interestingly, the trust was neither declared to the tax and election authorities during his stint as finance minister nor as prime minister.

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Speaking through his attorney in New York, Aziz said that he didn’t have to declare the trust in Pakistan as he was a settlor.

When asked if his wife or children declared the trust, he responded that they didn’t have to declare because they were beneficiaries, not the beneficial owners.

Aziz served as prime minister from August 28, 2004, to November 15, 2007.

Aziz settled abroad after his tenure came to an end in 2007.

NICL chairman Ayaz Khan Niazi

Moreover, former National Insurance Corporation Limited (NICL) chairperson Ayaz Khan Niazi has also been identified in the records in connection with four offshore holdings in the British Virgin Islands.

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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 Niazi was the NICL chief.

In the record, however, Niazi’s two brothers, Hussain Khan Niazi and Muhammad Ali Khan Niazi, were shown as the beneficial owners, whereas Ayaz along with his father Abdul Razaq Khan and mother Fauzia Razzaq acted as directors.

The NICL scandal, which made headlines in Pakistan during Niazi’s tenure, pertained to financial embezzlement by Niazi, then commerce minister (late) Makhdoom Amin Fahim and several bureaucrats in purchase of official land.

The case is yet to be decided

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