The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), the group that had unravelled the Panama Papers a year ago, has now released Paradise Papers revealing the often-murky financial wheelings and dealings of some of the world’s most powerful political players including Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
A trove of 13.4 million records exposes ties between Russia and US President Donald Trump’s billionaire commerce secretary, the secret dealings of the chief fundraiser for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the offshore interests of the Queen of England and more than 120 politicians around the world.
The Paradise Papers have named Shaukat Aziz in its list of offshore company holders. Aziz had served as the prime minister of Pakistan from 2004 to 2007, soon after completing a five-year stint as the country’s finance minister.
It reads: In 1999, the year he [Aziz] was appointed finance minister, Aziz created the Antarctic Trust, which was “constituted [in the United States] for the benefit of the Settlor’s family,” which includes his wife, three children and a granddaughter. The trust does not appear in the financial disclosure statements Aziz submitted from 2003 to 2006, while he was finance minister and prime minister.
"Appleby’s Bermuda office was the trust’s protector, acting as an independent overseer. In a 2012 internal memo, the law firm’s compliance officer noted that Aziz had been accused by the opposition of false declaration of assets, corruption and misappropriation of funds. Three years later, in a database of high-risk clients, Appleby also noted that a Pakistani court had issued three arrest warrants against Aziz in relation to the killing of a local leader. In September 2015, Antarctic Trust was closed and the related file removed from one of Appleby’s internal databases. Aziz has dismissed both the accusations of graft and any association with the murder," read the document available on the ICIJ website.
The other prominent political figure from Pakistan named in the Paradise Papers is former National Insurance Corporation Limited (NICL) chairperson Ayaz Khan Niazi, DawnNews reported.
The most detailed revelations emerge in decades of corporate records from the white-shoe offshore law firm Appleby and corporate services provider Estera, two businesses that operated together under the Appleby name until Estera became independent in 2016.
The leaked documents, dubbed the Paradise Papers, show how deeply the offshore financial system is entangled with the overlapping worlds of political players, private wealth and corporate giants, including Apple, Nike, Uber and other global companies that avoid taxes through increasingly imaginative bookkeeping manoeuvres.
The new files come from two offshore services firms as well as from 19 corporate registries maintained by governments in jurisdictions that serve as way stations in the global shadow economy.
The leaks were obtained by German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and a network of more than 380 journalists in 67 countries.
"The documents speak for themselves," the ICIJ Director Gerard Ryle said about their upcoming project.
The other notables who have been named in the Paradise Papers include former president of Indonesia Suharto, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Queen of Jordan Noor al-Hussein, India's Member of Parliament Ravindra Kishore (RK) Sinha, India's Civil Aviation Minister Jayant Sinha, Turkey's Prime Minister Binali Yildirim and US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Louis Ross, Jr.