Panama Papers revelations have clearly left a world reeling from shock and disbelief. It now appears that Bangladesh has also come into focus, with as many as 38 persons and organisations being mentioned in the long list of corrupt practitioners maintaining offshore accounts and possibly evading tax payments.
Awami League Presidium Member Kazi Zafarullah and his wife Nilufar Zafar are found in the list. Nilufar Zafar is a member of parliament belonging to the ruling party. However, both Zafrullah and his wife denied the allegation.
The list published by International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), however, claims that Zafarullah and his family are the owners of an offshore company in British Virgin Island.
The Summit Industrial and Mercantile Corporation is also in the list of the money launderers.
Chairman of Mercantile Corporation Mohammad Aziz Khan, his wife Anjuman Aziz Khan, daughter Ayesha Aziz Khan, brother Zafar Umayed Khan and nephew Faisal Karim Khan operate six companies in the offshore zones abroad. However, Aziz Khan has denied the allegation. They have registered a company at Virgin Island using an address in Singapore.
The other companies and individuals include Hasan Mahmud Raza, Khandker Moinul Ahsan (Shamim) and Ahmed Ismail Hossain and Akhter Mahmud of the United Group of Companies, Samson H Chowdhury of Square Group of Companies, former President of Bangladesh Association of Pharmaceutical Industries Dr AMM Khan, Director of Momen Tea Asmot Moin, jute trader Dilip Kumar Modi, Chairman of Sea Pearl Lines Dr Syed Sirajul Haque, Aminul Huq, Nazim Asadul Huq and Tarique Iqramul of Bangla Truck Ltd, Captain Sohail Hasan of Western Marine Ship Builders, Chairman of Masqat Group of Companies FM Zobaidul Huq, Managing Director of Setu Corporation Mahtab Uddin Chowdhury and his wife Umme Rabbana, Chairman of Spark Ltd Iftekharul Alam and his daughter-in-law Fawzia Naz, Managing Director of Abdul Monem Limited ASM Mohiuddin Monem and his wife Asma Monem and Sharif Zahir of Ananta Group.
A year-long worldwide media investigation into a trove of 11.5 million documents, leaked from a Panama-based law firm with offices in 35 countries, exposed a tangle of confidential financial dealings by the elite, from aides of Russian President Vladimir Putin to relatives of Chinese President Xi Jinping, sports celebrities and screen stars.
The vast stash of records from legal firm Mossack Fonseca, the so-called Panama Papers, was obtained from an anonymous source by German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung and shared with more than 100 media groups by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
Offshore financial dealings are not illegal in themselves but may be abused to hide assets from tax authorities, launder the proceeds of criminal activities or conceal misappropriated or politically inconvenient wealth.
Just over two years ago, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists were also involved in another leak of information about offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands.