ISLAMABAD/LONDON: The 38-page trust deed that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Jahangir Khan Tareen had provided in the Supreme Court (SC) regarding the offshore trust had been signed and executed in Geneva, Switzerland, and facilitated by HSBC Guyerzeller Trust Company Geneva, reported The News.
During the hearing in the SC when Tareen provided the trust deed regarding the 12-acre property that he owns in the United Kingdom, no questions were raised regarding the Swiss connection of the ‘Trust Deed’ and no UK and foreign bank statements were presented along with the trust deed. In addition, the court did not seek the full paper trail and did not probe deeper into the documentation provided.
The trust deed that Tareen provided is witnessed by Ian Iredale, an officer of HSBC’s private Geneva bank, who deals with high-value clients. This important fact points to the possibility that Tareen holds or held Swiss bank accounts.
According to an expert who advises on offshores shells and trust, if a person does not maintain a Swiss account wouldn’t get services from Swiss bankers to get his offshore trust registered abroad.
Moreover, the trust deed that Tareen provided was witnessed by an individual with an address of a luxury real estate company in Switzerland. This further consolidates the fact that sponsors of the offshore trust, are individuals with well-established Swiss businesses and sound banking connections.
Moreover, the ‘Trust Deed’ was signed by Valerie Michalowski, a Swiss national and a resident of Geneva who happens to be a renowned offshore ‘Trust Administrator’ in the city.
All this raises several questions as to why Tareen’s trust was registered in Switzerland.
Moreover, Tareen’s counsel has asserted that funds were channelled out of Pakistan legally but detailed banking transactions were never produced to avoid the matter being probed in detail.
Interestingly, Tareen’s offshore ‘Trust Deed’ was registered in St Helier Jersey, which is considered to be a preferred territory for parking funds for super-wealthy individuals from world over. Imran Khan’s Niazi Services Limited was also registered in channel Island St Helier Jersey.
Another important feature of the trust deed is that the trust provisions clearly point to the fact that Tareen practically controls the trust. Hence, the non-disclosure of the deed to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and FBR is seen as indefensible for the PTI leader.
Another key provision of the deed is that all key decisions regarding the multi-million dollar investments will be made by the investment committee. It also recognises Tareen as the first and controlling member of the investment committee, and the other two other members of the investment committee are appointed by the settler, Tareen.
Other sections of the trust deed have also raised questions about a possible Candian connection since a number of sections of the trust deed have special provisions to incorporate Canadian tax laws.
Moreover, Tareen had stated on a local TV talk show that he owned a property in Canada which he had already sold. The court did not probe Tareen about the Canadian property and its transactions nor was any documentation submitted in this regard.
As per media reports, Tareen had told the court that the trust deed had been signed in London and but the witnesses resided in Geneva, hence the mention of their Swiss addresses.
According to reports, the trust deed establishes that it had been signed and formalised in Geneva as opposed to London since if it had been signed in London, the witnesses would have to declare their presence in London, the place where the trust would have been witnessed.
As per legal experts, it is illegal for the witnesses to register their place as Geneva if they are physically present in London. Lawyers claim that it would be illegal for Swiss witnesses to register their place of presence and witness status in Geneva if the papers were to be signed in London.