The Paradise Papers is an investigation into offshore and banking assets carried out by the Indian Express with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
NEW DELHI: A year after the Panama Papers , a new set of data taken from another offshore law firm, Appleby, could expose the hidden wealth of individuals, including Indians, and show how corporations, hedge funds and others may have skirted taxes.
Among the 180 countries represented in the data (being dubbed Paradise Papers), India ranks 19th in terms of the number of names, a report on Indian Express website said.
In all, there are 714 Indians in the tally, it reported. Interestingly, an Indian firm figures as Appleby’s second-largest client globally, with at least 118 different offshore entities, it said.
The disclosure comes two days before the NDA government marks the first anniversary of the demonetization drive on November 8, which the Center will observe as Anti-Black Money Day.
The leaked documents also show that US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross, the Trump administration’s point man on trade and manufacturing policy, has a stake in a firm that does business with a gas producer partly owned by the son-in-law of Russian l President Vladimir Putin.
According to records obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), Ross is an investor in Navigator Holdings, a shipping giant that counts Russian gas and petrochemical producer Sibur among its major customers. Putin’s son-in-law Kirill Shamalov once owned over 20% of the company, but now holds a much smaller stake.
Names of Civil Aviation Minister Jayant Sinha, BJP Rajya Sabha MP R K Sinha, corporate lobbyist Niira Radia, Angry Young man Amitabh Bachchan and Sanjay Dutt’s wife Manyata are some Indian names that figure on the list of firms and individuals named in the leaked documents for offshore accounts in tax havens.
Here are 10 prominent Indian names that are linked to the Paradise Papers:
Jayant Sinha: Union Minister Jayant Sinha had worked with Omidyar Network as Managing Director in India and Omidyar Network had invested in a U.S. company D.Light Design that has a subsidiary in Cayman Islands, according to a report based on the Paradise Papers investigation.
Sinha, however, has denied his involvement, saying that the transactions were legal and bona fide.
Amitabh Bachchan: Amitabh Bachchan’s name appeared in the leaked documents because records show that he became a shareholder of a digital media company incorporated in Bermuda in 2002. It further says that all investments abroad made by resident Indians required prior approval of the Reserve Bank of India till 2004. It’s not clear if Bachchan had disclosed the shareholding to RBI. The company was registered with the name of Jalva Media Ltd.
RK Sinha: Founder of the private security service firm SIS, Rajya Sabha MP R K Sinha heads a group which has two offshore entities. As per the records, SIS International Holdings Limited (SIHL), a company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, holds 3,999,999 shares in SAPHL while 1 share is with Ravindra Kishore Sinha.
Niira Radia: Corporate lobbyist Niira Radia was part of two offshore companies in Malta. The accessed documents from Malta registry show that Radia was director, legal and judicial representative in Suez La Vallette Limited, incorporated in Malta in April 2012; and Pegasus International Advisors Limited, incorporated in Malta in August 2011.
Manyata Dutt: Documents show that Dilanshin Sanjay Dutt, popularly known as Manyata, served as the Director, Managing Director, President and Treasurer of an offshore firm Nasjay Company Limited in 2010. The company was set up in the Bahamas.
Sachin Pilot: Congress leader and former Union minister Sachin Pilot’s name appeared in the documents over his alleged connection with the Rajasthan ambulance scam. Tt was found that a company registered by Appleby in tax haven Mauritius invested in an Indian firm that is at the centre of a probe by CBI and ED into what is called the Rajasthan Ambulance scam.
Karti Chidambaram: Karti’s name appeared in the leaked documents because he, along with other ministers, is linked to Ziqitza Health Care Limited which is being probed by the CBI and ED for the Rajasthan ambulance scam.
According to Indian Express, Ziqitza raised money from Global Medical Response of India Limited which was registered in Mauritius on March 26, 2008 by Appleby and classified as “high risk profile”.
YS Jagan Mohan: The documents have revealed fresh financial links in the ongoing CBI case involving YSR Congress Chief YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, who was earlier in trouble in connection with disproportionate assets.
Vijay Mallya: Appleby’s files also revealed that when former Indian liquor magnate Vijay Mallya, who is on the run from Indian authorities at the moment, sold his United Spirits Limited India to Diageo, the latter approached a London-based law firm to implement a massive restructuring exercise aimed at simplifying the complex corporate structure Mallya had created.
Dr Ashok Seth (Fortis Escorts): As per the documents, a potential conflict-of-interest transaction shows the alleged involvement of top medical practitioners. In 2004, Dr Ashok Seth, chairman of Fortis-Escorts — honoured with the Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri – was given shares by a Singapore-based company that manufactures stents, before the company went public. He prescribed the same to his patients.
Several other politicians were also named in the scam, which include former Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot and Ravi Krishna, son of former Union minister Vayalar Ravi.