According to ICIJ, The Paradise Papers is a global investigation into the offshore activities of some of the world’s most powerful people and companies.
ICIJ and 95 media partners explored 13.4 million leaked files from a combination of offshore service providers and the company registries of some of the world’s most secretive countries. The leak reveals data of over 25,000 companies spanning 180 countries, from 1950 to 2016.
The files were obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung.
The Paradise Papers documents include nearly seven million loan agreements, financial statements, emails, trust deeds and other paperwork from nearly 50 years at Appleby, an offshore law firm with offices in Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Isle of Man, Jersey, Guernsey, Mauritius, Seychelles, Hong Kong, and Shanghai.
The documents also include files from a smaller company, Asiaciti, and from company registries in 19 secrecy jurisdictions. The records range from complex, 100-page corporate transaction sheets and dollar-by-dollar payment ledgers to simple corporate registries of countries, such as Antigua and Barbuda, that do not publicly list names of company shareholders or directors.
The Paradise Papers also include far more information about US citizens, residents, and companies than previous ICIJ investigations, with at least 31,000 persons or parties identified.
At least two Pakistanis have been named in the Paradise papers – former prime minister Shaukat Aziz and former National Insurance Corporation Limited (NICL) chairperson Ayaz Khan Niazi.
Aziz is linked with Antarctic Trust, which was set up the former premier and includes his wife, children, and granddaughter as beneficiaries.
Aziz had set up the trust in the US state of Delaware before becoming finance minister in 1999. He was working for financial giant Citibank at the time.
Delaware is considered a domestic tax haven by US financial experts.
The trust was not declared at any point during his time as finance minister or prime minister.
According to media reports, Aziz’s lawyers have said that he was not legally required to declare the trust to Pakistani authorities. They added that the same applies for his wife and children.
Ayaz Khan Niazi has connections with a trust and three offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) – Andalusian Discretionary Trust, Andalusian Establishment Limited, Andalusian Enterprises Limited and Andalusian Holdings Limited, respectively.
The three companies were set up in 2010 when Niazi was NICL chairperson.
Niazi’s brothers Hussain Khan Niazi and Muhammad Ali Khan Niazi were shown as beneficial owners, whereas Ayaz, his father Abdul Razaq Khan, and mother Fauzia Razzaq acted as directors.