ISLAMABAD: As the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) released a database of around 13.4 million documents, revealing over 25,000 companies owned by the world’s rich and influential individuals, Pakistan’s former premier Shaukat Aziz is one of the more than 120 politicians named in the investigative report.
This cache of 13.4 million documents named “Paradise Papers” tumbled out 18 months after Panama Papers: both sets of data were obtained by German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and were investigated by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) working in partnership with 96 news organizations.
Shaukat Aziz established the company named Antarctic Trust and his siblings, as well as wife, became the beneficiaries of the company and this company was never disclosed before Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
Aziz served as prime minister from August 28, 2004, to November 15, 2007 and was appointed as finance minister in 1999. Aziz settled abroad after his tenure came to an end in 2007.
Former National Insurance Corporation Limited (NICL) chairman has also been named among those holding offshore companies. The Paradise Papers disclosed that Ayaz Khan Niazi was also having offshore assets 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 Niazi was the chairperson of the NICL.
Facebook and Appleby are also among the companies owning offshore companies according to Paradise Papers leader by ICIJ .
Earlier, Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif had been disqualified from holding office by the Supreme Court. The top court had also ordered that a case be registered against Sharif and ruled that a reference be sent against him and his family to an accountability court.
The scandal is about alleged money laundering by Sharif in 1990s, when he twice served as prime minister, to purchase assets in London. The assets surfaced when Panama Papers leak last year revealed that they were managed through offshore companies owned by Sharif’s children.