Shayan Fazlur Rahman, Beximco group’s executive director, has provided the British authorities with details of his beneficial ownership of the offshore company Ladybird Properties Ltd. which owns the £1.2 million London house in which Sheikh Rehana, the sister of Bangladesh’s prime minister, lives rent free.
Under UK law enacted in 2022, all offshore companies which own properties in the UK had to register with Companies House by the end of January 2023 providing details of the beneficial owner of the company. Shayan Rahman notified the authorities on January 5th 2023.
Rahman’s ownership of the Isle of Man registered Ladybird Properties, along with an agreement that allows the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s sister to live at the property rent free, had remained secret until it was revealed by Netra News at the end of last year.
The arrangement which also involves Shayan Rahman’ father Salman F Rahman — the vice-chairman of Beximco and the prime minister’s private sector advisor — is controversial as the conglomerate has gained significant benefits since Sheikh Hasina became prime minister in 2009. The market rent for the property is about £4,000 (Taka 4.8 lakh) a month, and the free rental arrangement has saved Rehana about £50,000 pounds (Taka 65 lakh), this year alone. Rehana has lived in the property for over ten years since it was purchased in 2011.
According to the notification to Companies House, Shayan Rahman is the only person who “has the right to exercise, or actually exercises, significant influence or control over” Ladybird Properties Ltd. The company’s official address is given as Hope Street, Douglas, Isle of Man and the service address is the solicitors, Jaswal Johnston LLP, which has represented Beximco in the past.
Salman Rahman earlier told Netra News that he provides the property rent free to Sheikh Rehana as he has had a close relationship with her for many years and. He also claims that neither he nor Beximco has sought any untoward advantage from the current government.
In a recent article published by UK’s Private Eye, in response to the arrangement, Tulip Siddiq MP, the daughter of Sheikh Rehana, said that “due to concerns regarding her mother’s security, her housing arrangement is unconventional.” However, having a property owned by an offshore company does not conceal who lives at the address, as Siddiq suggests. The benefit of having an offshore company involved in the ownership of a property is that it results in the identity of the property owner remaining unknown. Had Shayan Rahman or another person purchased the house, either in their own name or through a UK registered company it would have provided Rehana the same level of privacy as purchasing it using an offshore company. Indeed, Rehana's security is unaffected by the new filing with companies house.
Robert Barrington, professor of Anti-Corruption Practice at the Centre for the Study of Corruption in the University of Sussex, earlier told Netra News, “This is a fairly typical shell company secrecy scheme which has often been used in London. The unanswered question here is whether one party has received an undue financial benefit from providing favours to the other, and it would be reasonable to expect full disclosure of all dealings between the company and the government to allay any suspicions.”●