6 Bangladeshis named in Pandora Papers
Six Bangladeshi nationals have been found to hold shell companies in the tax haven British Virgin Islands, as per the latest release from the Pandora Papers, the biggest trove of leaked offshore data yet.
The names include Nihad Kabir, president of Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Sakina Miraly, a director of Ambee Pharmaceuticals, Mohammad Bhai, former chairman of Olympic Industries, and Manzurul Islam, chairman of Eastern Housing.
Sayedul Huda Chowdhury, the editor-in-chief of defunct primenews.com.bd and Prime Khobor, was also named in the release on December 6. Chowdhury is the brother of Mohammad Saiful Huda Chowdhury Shatil, a director of Masafi Group and a BNP leader in Munshiganj.
One Anita Rani Bhowmik of Chawkbazar was named as the beneficiary of Anteris Holdings, but no references were found of her.
The disclosure comes at a time when the High Court has cranked up the pressure on the Anti-Corruption Commission, the Criminal Investigation Department and the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit to take action against those named in the Panama and Paradise Papers, the precursors to Pandora Papers.
BNP leader Abdul Awal Mintoo and his family, controversial manpower exporter Moosa bin Shamsher, United Group's four founding directors, Baraka Patenga Power's director Faisal Ahmed Chowdhury, Brummer & Partners Asset Management (Bangladesh) among others were mentioned in the Panama and Paradise Papers.
The latest release under the Pandora Papers does not specify whether those named had dodged taxes or broke their home countries' laws while opening the shell companies.
Save for Chowdhury's shell company Bayben International Inc., the other offshore companies were opened by the prestigious Panamanian law firm Alemán, Cordero, Galindo & Lee (Alcogal), whose corporate records formed the bulk of the Pandora Papers.
The 2.94 terabytes of data offer the most comprehensive look into the hidden operations of a global offshore economy that enables some of the world's richest people to hide their wealth and in some cases pay little or no tax.
Over the past three decades, Alcogal has become a magnet for the rich and powerful from Latin America and beyond seeking to hide wealth offshore, said the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which obtained the 11.9 million files from 14 offshore service providers two years ago.
Alcogal's British Virgin Islands office address was used to open the offshore accounts for the five as well as for Walter Pollak, a Russian national, and Daniel Ernesto Iubatti, an Argentinean national. The latter two's corporate records contained addresses in Bangladesh.
Chowdhury's offshore company was opened by the British Virgin Islands-registered Fidelity Corporate Services.
Kabir, an advocate of the Supreme Court and chairperson of Brac-EPL Investments, is the owner of a shell company Capital Fair Holdings, established in August 2008.
The address used while opening the company, which was incorporated on August 8, 2008, and was shown to still be active as of 2019, matched with the one on the Dhaka Bar Association's records for Kabir.
Kabir did not respond to The Daily Star's request for comment.
Miraly, who is also the daughter of Mohammad Bhai, was shown to be the beneficiary owner of the shell company Moonraker Services Corp.
Bhai, who established the country's first steel mill in 1959 as well as Olympic Industries in 1979, is said to be the beneficiary owner of 1936 Holdings. He passed away in 2018 at the age of 93.
Both Bhai and Miraly used the same Gulshan address to open the shell companies.
Mohammad Amir Hossain, company secretary of Ambee Pharma, confirmed the address to be Miraly's.
Both Moonraker and 1936 Holdings were incorporated on October 8, 2013, and was found to be active as of 2019.
Islam is said to be the beneficiary of an entity named Oriental Agrichemical Company, incorporated on April 26, 2011.
Records show Gulshan address used by Islam to open the shell company belonged to him.
Islam did not respond to The Daily Star's request for comment.
Chowdhury was named as the owner of Bayben International Inc, a company set up in 2017.
Records show the Gulshan address used to open the company belonged to his brother Mohammad Saiful Huda Chowdhury Shatil.
The Daily Star could not reach Chowdhury but managed to get hold of Shatil, whose family hail from Manikganj.
"My brother does not own any such company. My brother is 28 years old and at the time of the establishment of the company, he was a student," Shatil said.
The Dhaka address provided by Bhowmik to open the company Anteris Holdings is not detailed enough. The Daily Star could not find any trace of her.