KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 4 — The Pandora Papers — documents obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) on tax havens preferred by the rich and powerful — have shed some light on business associates of former finance minister Tun Daim Zainuddin.
Malaysiakini reported that according to the documents, which were sighted by them, the companies and trusts held by Daim's children, wife or known business associates jointly were worth at least £25 million (about RM141 million).
Daim’s sons, Muhammed Amir Zainuddin Daim and Muhammed Amin Zainuddin Daim were named owners of a British Virgin Islands (BVI) firm Newton Invest & Finance Limited (BVI) in 2007 when they were nine and 12 respectively.
By 2017, when the brothers were in their early 20s, they were owners of several offshore firms set up in tax havens, including Splendid International Ltd (BVI) which held London properties worth £12 million (about RM65 million at 2017 exchange rates).
Besides the two BVI firms, the brothers and their mother are also shareholders in several other offshore companies which hold properties in London.
Meanwhile, the documents also mentioned Josephine Premla Sevaretnam, a former lawyer and deputy public prosecutor who served alongside Daim in the service before holding key positions in his various ventures which includes the Swiss bank ICB Banking Group, in which Daim owns 74.4 per cent when it was listed on the London Alternative Investment Market in 2007.
Josephine was also listed as Newton Invest & Finance Limited (BVI) and Splendid International Ltd’s (BVI) business manager, based in Bryanston Square, London.
Daim’s daughter Aslinda Daim-Pan, who took on her husband's surname, is also a director of the British company 8 Bryanston Square Freehold Limited, according to the UK's Companies House.
In a reply to Malaysiakini, Daim called out what he believes is the news portal's "unending obsession" with him.
He said while not all the trusts listed belonged to him, but all his dealings are legitimate and further stated that trusts are part of "estate planning" as he has retired from business.
As such, he contended that the reporting, which implies wrongdoing by innuendo and speculation, is "unprofessional" and an attempt to discredit him.
The former minister also said he has always paid taxes due for all investments and properties in any jurisdiction and that he was a "successful and wealthy" businessperson in his own right.
"I have been in business since the 1960s. It has been more than 60 years, a half-century since.
"I think some recognition should be given to a Malaysian who has successfully carried the flag for Malaysian businesses here and worldwide," he was reported as saying.
The Pandora Papers is the largest trove of leaked offshore data in history with documents coming from offshore service providers operating in Anguilla, Belize, Singapore, Switzerland, Panama, Barbados, Cyprus, Dubai, the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands, Seychelles and Vietnam.
The files were leaked to the ICIJ, which has not revealed its source. The ICIJ gave 600 journalists around the world remote access to the leaked data.