Panama law firm papers reveal Sharif family’s ‘offshore holdings’

Islamabad : Secret files of the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca that have leaked into the public domain indicate that Pakistan’s first family — the Sharifs — are the world’s powerful who have established offshore tax havens to park their unaccounted for wealth.

In a data dump that is described as being larger than the leaked US diplomatic cables, around 2.6 terabytes of information have been drawn out of the internal database of Mossack Fonseca and made public.

Available on the website of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists – one of around 100 news organisations and 300 journalists that worked on mining the data simultaneously, the Dawn says Prime Minister Sharif’s children Mariam, Hasan and Hussain are owners or had the right to authorise transactions for several companies.

Mariam is described as “the owner of British Virgin Islands-based firms Nielsen Enterprises Limited and Nescoll Limited, incorporated in 1994 and 1993”.

On one of the documents released by ICIJ, the address listed for Nielsen Enterprises is Saroor Palace in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The document, dated June 2012, describes Mariam Safdar as the ‘beneficial owner’.

According to ICIJ, “Hussain and Mariam signed a document dated June 2007 that was part of a series of transactions in which Deutsche Bank Geneva lent up to $13.8 million to Nescoll, Nielsen and another company, with their London properties as collateral.”

In July 2014, the two companies were transferred to another agent.

Hasan Nawaz Sharif is described as “the sole director of Hangon Property Holdings Limited incorporated in the British Virgin Islands in February 2007, which acquired Liberia-based firm Cascon Holdings Establishment Limited for about 11.2 million dollars in August 2007”.

But the papers are not necessarily evidence of wrongdoing. According to The Guardian, using offshore structures is entirely legal.

It is expected that the data leak will yield more information in days to come. (ANI with inputs)