Monday Oct 04, 2021
ISLAMABAD: Responding to media reports about the inclusion of his name in the Pandora Papers documents in relation to a London apartment purchased through an offshore company, retired Lt Gen Shafaat Shah has said he bought the flat in question using the proceeds from the sale of a plot in Lahore.
Taking to Twitter, Shafaat Shah argued that buying a property in the United Kingdom through an offshore company is legal as per the country’s law.
The retired army officer further stated that he has no other business or source of income.
Talking about the plot’s value, Shafaat Shah said, “Its price was less than half of what is quoted [in the Pandora Papers].”
He further said, “It [the purchase] was reported to Army authorities and reflected in [my] tax returns.”
Shah further said that he has no connection with Akbar Asif, who sold the London property.
He also cast doubt on the intent of the journalists who reported the story.
“One of the journalists involved with investigations, [Malia] Pulitzer, has recently stayed in India for 2 years and it is a typical RAW practice to malign Pakistan Army officers with criminals,” he alleged.
According to the ICIJ, Gen Shafaat Ullah Shah’s wife acquired a $1.2 million apartment in London through a discreet offshore transaction in 2007. The property was transferred in her name by an offshore company owned by Akbar Asif, a wealthy businessman who has opened restaurants in London and Dubai. Asif is the son of the Indian film director K Asif.
The leaked documents show that Asif has owned a multimillion-dollar property portfolio through a web of offshore companies.
One of those companies, called Talah Ltd. and registered in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), was used to transfer the London apartment to Shafaat Shah’s wife. Talah bought an apartment near the Canary Wharf financial district in 2006. The next year, Asif transferred ownership of the company to Fariha Shah, the ICIJ stated.
Shah told the ICIJ that the purchase of the London apartment had been made through a former army colleague then acting as a consultant to London real estate firms, not through any personal connection to Asif.
He said the flat “was named” after his wife because “I already had properties in my name while she did not have any and to balance tax deductions.”