Panama leaks ‘RAW conspiracy’

Rehman Malik claims he and BB not named, PPP says Benazir smeared through unsubstantiated allegations

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan People’s Party leader Rehman Malik yesterday termed the Panama Papers a conspiracy of Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) as he was exposing India’s designs to destabilise Pakistan.
Panama leaks revealed former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, her aide Rehman Malik and nephew Hassan Ali Jaffery Bhutto set up a company, Petroline International Inc, in the British Virgin Islands in 2001.
Quoting secret documents of Panamanian law firm, the Panama Papers said the trio were later accused of bribing the Iraqi government to bag contracts under the United Nation’s oil-for-food programme for a similarly named company Petrofine FZC, set up in Sharjah in 2000.
It said Petrofine FZC paid $2 million commission to the regime of Saddam Hussein to win oil contracts worth $115-145 million.
The record of international law firm Mossack Fonseca’s (MF) revealed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in 2006 had claimed Petroline FZC was owned by Benazir Bhutto, Rehman Malik and Ali Jaffery Bhutto.
But Rehman Malik told The Nation, he and Benazir Bhutto were not even named in the Panama leaks. “We are not named in these papers. Indian Express replicated a fake story that was published in 2007 and the people without reading the report and any clarification from us linked the Indian Express report with Panama Leaks,” he added.
The PPP leader termed Panama Papers a conspiracy of RAW to push him into a controversy. Malik said the information mentioned in Panama Papers were based on inadequate evidences and falsehood.
He, however, accepted he owned Petrofine FZC oil company, adding it was not involved in any shady business. “It was a United Arab Emirates firm and worked in accordance with the local laws,” he explained. He contended Petroline was never involved in any wrongdoings. “No bribe or commission was ever paid to anybody in the Sadam Hussain regime,” he claimed.
“Petroline is not a secret company but an openly registered limited company. The negative propaganda must end,” he said.
Separately, PPP spokesman Senator Farhatullah Babar said yesterday this was not for the first time that the name of Benazir Bhutto was smeared through unsubstantiated allegations.
Commenting on reports mentioning the name of Benazir Bhutto in the oil for food program in Iraq, he said when the report of the oil for food program first surfaced over a decade ago the NAB dispatched its prosecutors and investigators to Spain for investigation.
“However, the NAB persecutors returned empty handed when the Spanish Magistrate found no proof of wrongdoing and close the case,” he added.
The PPP spokesman said those who want to smear the name of Benazir Bhutto should first look-up the past record.
Senior PPP leader Qamar Zaman Kaira said Benazir Bhutto sacrificed her life for the country but she was still being accused of wrongdoings by some elements.
Kaira however, said disclosures of Panama Papers regarding Sharif family’s offshore assets could be “disastrous” for political future of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

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