Monday, April 04, 2016

Panama papers: 500 Indians in global list of secret firms in tax havens

 Iqbal Mirchi, Adani elder brother, Amitabh Bachchan, Aishwarya Bachchan named in Tax Leaks
Amitabh Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan were among the Indians mentioned in the Panama papers leaked on Monday. (AFP file)



The names of actors Amitabh Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, real estate tycoon KP Singh and late gangster Iqbal Mirchi figured in a list of over 500 Indians who allegedly used a law firm in Panama to set up offshore entities in tax havens across the world, a newspaper reported on Monday.


The Indian Express said a study of more than 11 million documents from the secret files of Mossack Fonseca, the Panama law firm, showed that Indians possibly violated tax rules or masked ownership of firms they allegedly set up abroad.

The newspaper claimed that while Aishwarya Rai was a shareholder of a firm in the British Virgin Islands, her father-in-law – superstar Amitabh Bachchan – was the director of four shipping companies in the Bahamas. It said Indiabulls owner Sameer Gahlaut acquired “three top London properties” via “entities” in the Bahamas and Jersey, and DLF promoter KP Singh and his family owned firms in the British Virgin Islands.


The promoters of Apollo Tyres, business tycoon Gautam Adani’s elder brother Vinod Adani, West Bengal politician Shishir Bajoria and former Loksatta Party leader Anurag Kejriwal were some other Indians named in the newspaper report.

Until 2003, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) norms did not allow an Indian citizen to set up an overseas entity. In 2004, resident Indians were allowed to remit funds of up to $25,000 a year under the Liberalised Remittance Scheme (LRS) – the limit of which stands at $250,000 a year now.



Clients who knocked on a Panama door--Responses: Firm has no income, no assets; NRIs not covered by Indian laws; sent money through Liberalised Remittance Scheme; no reporting requirement

The Indian Express claimed that while RBI let individuals buy shares under LRS, it never permitted them to set up companies abroad. The Mossack Fonseca documents allegedly show companies were set up long before the rules were changed, and the purpose may have been to park foreign exchange in a tax haven.

Individuals named in the newspaper report were yet to comment, and government officials were expected to respond later. The report in the Indian Express formed part of an investigation by an international coalition of media outlets into the offshore financial dealings of the rich and famous, based on a vast trove of documents provided by an anonymous source.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalism, a non-profit organisation based in Washington, said the cache of 11.5 million records detailed the offshore holdings of a dozen present and former world leaders, besides businessmen, criminals, celebrities and sports stars. Political figures from Iceland, Ukraine, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Argentina were named in the reports.


Benazir Bhutto


Amitabh Bachchan

























Amitabh Bachchan and family did not respond to repeated emails sent to them and phone calls made to their mobile numbers, Mumbai residences and the AB Corporation office for over a week. 

Two years before ABCL: 4 shipping firms in tax havens, one link — Amitabh Bachchan


Amitabh Bachchan was managing director of shipping companies set up 23 years ago. The other directors were representatives of firms that provide corporate and financial services

Two years before he launched Amitabh Bachchan Corporation Limited (ABCL) in 1995, the Bollywood legend was appointed director in at least four offshore shipping companies.


Records of international law firm Mossack Fonseca, reviewed by The Indian Express, and subsequent inquiries show that the four companies, in which Bachchan was appointed director, were registered in tax havens — one in the British Virgin Islands and three in the Bahamas in November 1993.

bigbappointed10nov1993

Bachchan was also managing director of all four companies. The other directors were representatives of firms that provide corporate and financial services. In all four cases, Warrant Secretaries Limited was appointed company secretary. Warrant Nominees Ltd and Warrant Services Ltd were issued 500 shares each.

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan

One of India’s most famous faces, Aishwarya Rai, and her family were part of a company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, a tax haven for almost three years.

MF documents showed that Rai, her father Kotedadi Ramana Rai Krishna Rai, mother Vrinda Krishna Raj Rai and brother Aditya Rai were appointed on May 14, 2005, as directors of Amic Partners Limited — with an initial authorised capital of $50,000.

On June 18, 2005, an Amic board resolution changed Rai’s status to shareholder. And on July 5, 2005, internal instructions exchanged between MF staff stated: “One of the shareholders requested to shorten her name from Ms Ashwaria Rai (sic) to Ms A Rai for reasons of confidentiality. The same was mutually agreed and consented by all directors and shareholders.” In 2008, a year after Rai married Abhishekh Bachchan, the process to wind up the company was initiated, show records.

Amitabh Bachchan


Two years before he launched Amitabh Bachchan Corporation Limited (ABCL) in 1995, the Bollywood legend was appointed director in at least four offshore shipping companies. Records of international law firm Mossack Fonseca, reviewed by The Indian Express, and subsequent inquiries show that the four companies, in which Bachchan was appointed director, were registered in tax havens — one in the British Virgin Islands and three in the Bahamas in November 1993.

bigbappointed10nov1993


Bachchan was also managing director of all four companies. The other directors were representatives of firms that provide corporate and financial services. In all four cases, Warrant Secretaries Limited was appointed company secretary. Warrant Nominees Ltd and Warrant Services Ltd were issued 500 shares each.

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan





















‘Shorten name from Aishwarya Rai to A Rai for confidentiality’

One of India’s most famous faces, Aishwarya Rai, and her family were part of a company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, a tax haven for almost three years.

MF documents showed that Rai, her father Kotedadi Ramana Rai Krishna Rai, mother Vrinda Krishna Raj Rai and brother Aditya Rai were appointed on May 14, 2005, as directors of Amic Partners Limited — with an initial authorised capital of $50,000.

On June 18, 2005, an Amic board resolution changed Rai’s status to shareholder. And on July 5, 2005, internal instructions exchanged between MF staff stated: “One of the shareholders requested to shorten her name from Ms Ashwaria Rai (sic) to Ms A Rai for reasons of confidentiality. The same was mutually agreed and consented by all directors and shareholders.” In 2008, a year after Rai married Abhishekh Bachchan, the process to wind up the company was initiated, show records



 DLF owner Kushal Pal Singh

DLF owner, Kushal Pal Singh, acquired a company in British Virgin Islands, a tax haven, in which his wife Indira KP Singh is a co-shareholder, according to documents of Mossack Fonseca (MF), the Panamanian law firm that helps set up offshore entities.


willder-payments-share-issu

The real estate tycoon has been described as a “politically exposed person (PEP)” by Mossack Fonseca & Co (BVI) Ltd, the registered agent for Singh’s offshore entity called Willder Ltd. Singh has been the Honorary Consul General of Monaco in Delhi since October 1990, and credited by GE’s former chairman and CEO Jack Welch for having initiated the global corporation’s India entry. Last year, DLF made headlines over a controversial land deal with Robert Vadra, the son-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi.


MF records note transfer of funds by K P Singh to buy shares in Willder Ltd, a firm registered in British Virgin Islands.


Singh and Indira KP Singh initially remitted funds in two tranches in September 2010 and October 2011 to buy Willder shares — Singh contributed $676,400 and Indira Singh $ 714,400. While each share had a par value of $10,000, the company decided to set aside $6,400 from KP Singh’s contribution and $4,400 from Indira Singh’s towards share application money. Singh and Indira Singh were allotted 67 and 71 shares, respectively.

Indiabulls


A screen grab of the website of Clivedale, featuring four London projects, including the Indiabull Group’s 22, Hanover Square. 


Indiabulls, one of the country’s largest realty groups controlled by Sameer Gehlaut, brother Nagendra and father Balwan Singh, made headlines in June 2014 when it acquired a 87444-sq ft property for 155 million pounds at Hanover Square in London.


bulls-paper

Before Indiabulls Real Estate Ltd entered the UK market, Sameer Gehlaut acquired at least three top London properties through family entities in Karnal, Delhi, Bahamas, Jersey and UK. Currently being developed as residential and hotel projects, these properties are owned by SG Family Trust, set up in October 2012 for the benefit of the family.

The paper also reported that Perpetual Management Private Limited, trustee of the SG Family Trust, is owned by Haryana Mahila Congress chief and ex-MLA Sumita Singh and her husband Jagdeep Singh Virk, parents of Sameer’s wife Divya Gehlaut.

Garware family

Offshore entities: Rondor Overseas Ltd, others
Location:BVI and Panama

MF records show that the Garware family, comprising Ashok Garware, Aditya Garware and Sushma Garware, is associated with a clutch of offshore entities. Ashok Garware is a shareholder in Rondor Overseas Ltd, registered in BVI on May 10, 1996, holding 1,000 shares of $1 each and a capital of $10,000.

Aditya Garware and Sushma Garware hold a Power of Attorney (PoA) in a number of Panamanian corporations that issued bearer shares.

Ashok Garware is the executive chairman of Global Offshore Services, earlier known as Garware Offshore Services, which owns and operates a fleet of anchor-handling tugs cum supply vessels and platform supply vessels in India, Europe and the Far East. Garware’s son Aditya is the managing director of Global Offshore. Other firms of the Garware Group include Garware Goa Nets, Garware Marine Industries and Garware Offshore International Services Pte.

Onkar Kanwar, Chairman of Appollo Group
Offshore entity: J&S Systems Corporation
Location: BVI

Onkar Kanwar, chairman of Apollo Group, and his family members floated an offshore entity, J&S Systems Corporation, in BVI in 2010 and two trusts in 2014.


MF records show that the entity holds a million shares of 0.01 pence each in London Stock Exchange-listed Mercom Oil Sands plc, an apartment in London’s iconic ‘The Tower’, and accounts in Barclays Bank, Singapore, and Cayman National Bank and Trust Company Ltd in Isle of Man. The balance in Cayman on November 30, 2014 was GBP 3,65,478.26, records show.

One of the most sought-after lawyers in the country, Harish Salve has represented celebrity clients in the Supreme Court. He was Solicitor General of India between 1999 and 2002.

Harish Salve


MF records show that Salve and his family members registered three offshore companies in the BVI — Crestbright Ltd, Pyebush Group Ltd and Edenval Ltd — through the London-based agent Rawi & Co with Vasant Vihar in New Delhi as the India address. MF records include a recommendation letter from Salve to Rawi & Co in 2007, asking them to set up a company and a trust for Ramesh Mahajan and Asha Mahajan.

His response- ““I set up Crestbright in 2012 — as a holding company to hold my lawfully made and fully disclosed investments based in the UK but the company has zero assets and zero income.

“I have been remitting funds since maybe 2003 under LRS. Out of these, some were invested in a portfolio in the UK and a patent in the US (a 25% stake with three other friends). Wanted to park these in a BVI company as at that time I was not a UK tax resident and wanted to avoid becoming one. Since 2014, I am a dual tax resident — UK and India, and so have not moved any assets into Crestbright.”

You can read the full list on Indian Express’ website


Sources- HT&IE







Source- HT

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