Pandora Papers: Iqbal Mirchi family expands offshore empire, with links to ex-Pak General
Despite a broad crackdown on the enforcement, including the seizure of properties worth hundreds of crores in India and Dubai, members of the Iqbal Mirchi family have been ahead of the authorities with new deals. offshore which also bind a retired Pakistani army general, investigating data contained in Pandora Papers broadcasts.
Iqbal Mirchi was a trusted aide to underworld gangster Dawood Ibrahim and was wanted by Mumbai Police and Law Enforcement Directorate. He was arrested by Scotland Yard in 1994 and died of a heart attack in London in 2013.
Since then, members of his family have built up a plethora of offshore assets to run their global real estate empire and in 2016 the Indian Express Panama Papers investigation revealed 17 of those companies.
Five years later, the Pandora Papers add another crucial layer to the family’s offshore silver tracks: the investments and transfers made by Iqbal Mirchi’s first wife, Hajra Iqbal Memon, and their two sons Junaid Memon and Asif. Iqbal Memon.
Significantly, following the exposure of the Panama Papers, the Mirchi family transferred several offshore companies from Mossack Fonseca to the British Virgin Islands Trident Trust, just in time before the Panamanian law firm closed in March 2018. This was done under what is mentioned. in emails from Trident Trust as “MossFon” project.
The latest revelations concern Akbar Asif, the brother of Iqbal Mirchi’s second wife, Heena Kauser, whose offshore transactions were also covered by The Indian Express in the 2016 Panama Papers.
Akbar Asif is the son of famous director K asif (from Mughal-e-Azam). We know that in 2004, he then met President Pervez Musharaff to demand the lifting of the ban on Indian films. When asked about this meeting, General Shah, in his response to the ICIJ, said that the meeting only lasted 2-4 minutes and that this brief meeting was the only time he himself met Akbar Asif.
Secret archives of Trident Trust BVI reveal that in 2007 Akbar Asif, wife and son of Lieutenant General Shafaat Ullah Shah, now retired three-star general of the Pakistani Army, became a shareholder in one of Asif companies, Talah Limited.
Shah served as military secretary to former Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf and also served as Pakistan’s Ambassador to Jordan.
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Shah was a two-star general in service when Talah Ltd was transferred to the name of his wife, Fariah Shah. Their son, Raza Ullah Shah, also became a shareholder of Talah at the age of 18 in 2010.
In the form of incorporation of the Trident Trust company, the “occupation” of Raza Ulla Shah is indicated as a director of Talah Ltd and the source of funds is listed as shareholder funds from the previous income of a youngster of 18 years old.
Ownership of another company, Mustique Investments Limited, was also transferred to Talah Ltd around the same time. Records reveal that Mustique Investments took over the stakes of several offshore Akbar Asif companies detailed in Trident Trust data shortly after their incorporation.
The register of directors of Talah Limited shows that Mirchi’s brother-in-law, Akbar Asif, and his wife, Kavita Charles Singh, became its directors in 2002; with Fariah Shah who joined him in 2007 and his son, Raza Ullah Shah, in 2010. Records show that in January 2008, Mustique Investments Limited’s entire stake in Talah Limited was sold to Fariah Shah and she was named the âsole directorâ of the company.
Significantly, Talah Ltd owns an apartment in London confirmed in the current UK register records consulted as part of this investigation. Records show Talah purchased the apartment for 676,250 pounds ($ 1.3 million at 2006 rates when purchased by BVI).
So, a year later, ownership of Talah Limited reverts to the wife and son of the retired Pakistani general, and with him, ownership of the London apartment.
While the Panama Papers had linked Akbar Asif to the ownership of Dates Foundation, created in 2005, the Pandora Papers reveal the existence of at least eight other entities, mainly BVIs.
There is a clear pattern of the creation of these entities by Akbar Asif and his wife around 2002-2003 and a year or two later their shares are transferred to Mustique.
In total, there are 21 companies owned by Akbar Asif for which documents are available in Secret Data. One of them is Karram Limited for which Trident Trust’s incorporation form indicates that Akbar Asif’s âsource of fundsâ is from investments in property and money from restaurants in Dubai and London, while that of his wife from his jewelry business in Dubai.
Correspondence and emails from Trident Trust employees show that while processing the Mirchi Clan companies’ transfer request – following the Panama exposure – they are getting negative “results” while performing the checks. usual history. An email dated June 15, 2017, referring to the transfer of three Memon companies, reads: “Please note that our global audit findings reflect a blow to the beneficial owners of the companies …”
It is mentioned in the files that in 2015 Hajra Memon received notices from the Enforcement Directorate for allegedly selling properties in Mumbai and using shell companies in tax havens to purchase real estate abroad. via hawala.
An identical negative entry was inserted in the case of his son, Asif Memon. It is also alleged that he was the âmanagerâ of Dawood Ibrahim’s business interests in Dubai, India and the UK. The ICIJ-Indian Express reports on the Mirchi clan are also listed in negative profiles and are part of the data.
Records show Asif Memon wrote to the Trident Trust denying all allegations: âI would like to state that all of the above was just media propaganda with the aim of defaming / conspiring against usâ¦ we got certificates UAE Police Department where we are currently resident and also in the UK.
Subsequently, email traces show that Trident Trust staff requested certified copies of police certificates prior to the transfer of businesses from Mossack Fonseca. In the data, Hajra Memon and Junaid Memon are shown as Indian citizens while Asif Memon is a UK citizen.
Marcus Rutherford, lawyer for Iqbal Mirchi’s family, did not respond to questions sent by The Indian Express.
Contacted by the ICIJ, Lt. General (ret’d) Shafaat Ullah Shah said: âThe purchase of Tallah Limited was immediately disclosed to the relevant authority in my declaration of assets. Since purchasing Tallah, all income from the asset has been reported to the tax authorities in my annual tax returns and all taxes have been paid to the relevant authorities. Tallah Limited was owned by an offshore holding company and not by Mr. Akbar Asif. ”
He added: âTallah Limited is an SPV, it was bought in 2007 thanks to a recommendation from my former colleague in the military working as a consultant to real estate companies in London. The only asset of the company was and is an apartment at 155 Discovery Dock East, South Quay Square, London E14 9RZ. Ownership of the apartment was assured in 2008. There was no transfer of shares but simply a purchase of the Company. There were no shares to transfer to our son Razaullah Shah, only the inclusion of his name on the board.