The anti-corruption commission and other government agencies are looking into the offshore assets of a former finance minister and his family, as well as others named in ICIJ’s 2021 investigation.
Malaysia’s anti-corruption agency is reportedly investigating the offshore assets of a former finance minister and other officials exposed in the 2021 Pandora Papers investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.
According to Malaysian media reports, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission recently summoned Daim Zainuddin and the son of a former prime minister whose shell companies were identified in the leaked documents at the center of the ICIJ investigation.
Utusan Malaysia, a local daily, reported that authorities are tracing Daim and his family’s links to 12 offshore companies to determine if wealth held in them was gained through government projects.
The reports did not identify Daim by name but instead referred to an “84-year-old former finance minister.” They also did not name the other person who was questioned by the authorities.
Pandora Papers is a global collaboration led by ICIJ and based on 11.9 million confidential records leaked from 14 offshore financial service providers. The cross-border investigation exposed how more than 300 politicians, business people and criminals worldwide used shell companies and trusts in a number of tax havens to hide their wealth or evade taxes.
As part of the investigation, Malaysiakini found offshore companies linked to several top officials and associates. ICIJ’s media partner in Malaysia also revealed that Daim’s two sons were shareholders of a shell company that held multimillion dollar properties in London. Daim, a former businessman, denied any wrongdoing, adding that the companies were disclosed to the authorities and he had paid taxes on them.
The current inquiry by the Malaysian authorities is still in its early stages, the media reports say.
According to Malaysiakini, Seri Azalina Othman, a minister in the Prime Minister’s cabinet, said in a written Parliamentary reply that a group of agencies including the Malaysia Anti-Corruption Committee, the tax department and the police were requesting information from abroad.
Source : ICIJ
Recap: Pandora Papers’ exposé on Daim, sons’ links to British companies
Reports have recently surfaced stating that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has begun investigations against a former minister.
Various portals, citing sources, pointed out that the person in question happens to be an 84-year-old former finance minister who served under Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s prime ministership, leading many to speculate that the individual concerned is none other than Tun Daim Zainuddin.
Coincidentally, in 2021, Daim courted controversy when his name appeared in the Pandora Papers leak – an exposé by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) of key individuals and their links to offshore entities in various jurisdictions.
Daim had responded to the revelations, telling Malaysiakini that he has paid taxes in all jurisdictions where he conducts business. He also said that not all firms he has links to are owned by him, explaining that they are partially controlled by his kin.
This is what The Vibes has found out so far from ICIJ’s offshore database as well as British company searches and land registries.
The Pandora Papers link Daim to five offshore entities.
According to the ICIJ’s offshore leaks database, Daim’s name appears five times in relation to companies located in a few nations.
All five companies have links to Asiaciti Trust, an international financial company with an office in Singapore.
The Pandora Papers as well as the Paradise Papers, which was another offshore data leak by ICIJ, revealed that Asiaciti Trust helped various notable figures set up offshore companies, including individuals linked to Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
Circling back to Daim, the former finance minister is listed as a settlor in two offshore entities – DZ Financial Trust and ICB Financial Group.
Additionally, Daim is listed as a director for ICB Trustees Limited (Cook Islands), DZ Limited (Cook Islands), and ICB Shares Limited (Samoa).
So far, ICIJ has listed the status of all entities except DZ Financial Trust as “closed”.
Also, while ICIJ has yet to release further details on these offshore entities, it should be noted that Daim previously has been linked to the Swiss financial institution ICB Banking Group.
Sons linked to three British firms
Checks on the UK’s Companies House (similar to the Companies Commission of Malaysia) reveal that Daim’s sons are linked to at least three British companies, one of which has already been dissolved.
Newton Invest & Finance, which no longer exists, featured his son Muhammed Amin Zainuddin and former deputy public prosecutor Josephine Premla Sivaretnam as directors.
The company, which only had £8,380 (RM44,997) in net assets following filings in October 2021, had its registered address at 17 Bryanston Square, London, United Kingdom, W1H 2DP.
The building, which is located in an area where land parcels exceed £32 million in land value, does not feature Newton Invest & Finance as proprietors of the land.
Searches on the UK Land Register reveal that the Switzerland government is the owner of the building.
Meanwhile, Amin’s name appears again alongside his brother Muhammed Amir Zainuddin and Naimah Abdul Khalid, reportedly Daim’s third wife, as directors for another British company named The Ilham Foundation.
Based on account filings last December, the Ilham Foundation only had £4,090 in net assets.
Its registered address is listed on the 10th floor of 240 Blackfriars Road, London.
The UK Land Registry data shows that the land value of the address is listed as £266,271,805. However, it is yet to be determined whether the value is the price of a unit in the building or the building as a whole.
Further checks also revealed that the 10th floor of the building is occupied by Boodle Hatfield LLP, a British law firm, not The Ilham Foundation.
‘Significant control’ in Splendid International
Another British company where the names of Amin and Amir appear is Splendid International Ltd.
Following company filings with Companies House, the siblings are recorded as “individuals with significant control”, with company documents specifying Amin and Amir both having between 25% to 50% shares each in the company.
Splendid International Ltd has £13,155,494 in fixed assets based on a balance sheet filed last December.
The company’s address is also located on the second floor of 38 Warren Street, London.
The whole building was last sold for £13,557,500 and is owned by a Singaporean company, Weybourne Holdings Pte Ltd.
Meanwhile, the Land Registry indicates that the second floor of the building is leased out to a British accounting firm called Harold Everett Wreford LLP.
So far, the MACC has yet to name the former minister that they are currently questioning, although the New Straits Times mentioned that the individual in question is being investigated for matters pertaining to the Pandora Papers leak.
Other Malaysians who have held ministerial portfolios were also named in the leak – Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz.
Although offshore entities are known to be used to avoid or evade taxes, owning offshore companies or accounts in itself is not a violation of the law.