Indian money in offshore entities: The Panama Papers
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and,
The Suddeutsche Zeitung, ICIJ and The Indian Express investigation
The treasure trove of records was accessed by Munich-based newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung which a year ago collaborated with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and, in turn, with over 100 media organisations to investigate its contents.
In July 2015, The Indian Express signed an agreement with ICIJ for being the Indian partner for The Panama Papers project. Since then, a team of 25 reporters, led by the newspaper’s investigative team, joined 375 journalists in 76 countries.
The Indian Express reporters did field visits across the country to check on addresses mentioned in these records.
The Indian Express asked each one named whether they had informed RBI or the Income Tax department about these companies.
The results of that investigation — that begin in a series starting today — tell a story that’s as much about draconian foreign investment laws as it’s about glaring gaps in the regulatory apparatus.
Clearly, it covers the period when India began signing tax agreements with other countries to accelerate cooperation on undisclosed and untaxed assets. And the years when tracking black money has become the centre of political and economic discourse.
The worldwide expose also comes just six months after the 90-day “compliance scheme” for declarations of offshore assets and accounts ended on September 30, 2015 and brought just Rs 3,770 crore from 637 declarants.
The window now closed, strict penalties and a jail term have been announced for anyone found to have undisclosed and undeclared foreign assets and accounts.
The Panama Papers is the third successive collaborative project done by The Indian Express with the ICIJ on offshore investments.
The first was in 2013, titled “Offshore Leaks.” There were 612 Indians on that list which included two politicians who were then Members of Parliament (including Vijay Mallaya) and several top industrialists.
The revelations led to several persons getting tax notices and subsequently being prosecuted for non-declaration of the offshore companies.
The second ICIJ-The Indian Express collaboration, under the aegis of the French newspaper, Le Monde, was published in February 2015. It was called “Swiss Leaks” and contained data of HSBC (Geneva) account holders — balances dating to 2006-07 — among whom there were 1,195 Indian account holders. (See Indian money in HSBC, Switzerland )
Significantly, this was almost double of the 628 names given by the French authorities to the Indian government in 2011 and the scope of the HSBC probe was expanded following the expose.
Indians in the names released by Panama Papers
The main findings
[In 2015], it was Swiss Leaks, a global list with over 1,100 Indians with secret bank accounts in HSBC Geneva, which shaped the debate over black money parked overseas. (See Indian money in HSBC, Switzerland and other similar Indpaedia pages.)
Now come The Panama Papers.
- Panama Papers: 424 names in probe, 49 are by Enforcement Directorate
- Panama Papers: 424 under probe, India gets data on 165 cases with links to offshore firms
- Panama papers: SC to hear plea seeking court monitored CBI investigation
- Panama Papers: Lahore HC rejects plea seeking PM Nawaz Sharif's removal
- Panama Papers: 415 Indians under scanner as probe widens
More than 11 million documents from the secret files of Mossack Fonseca, a law firm headquartered in tax haven Panama, known for its factory-like production of offshore companies for its worldwide clientele of the well-heeled.
These records reveal a list of individuals who have paid the firm — and bought the benefits of the secretive, lax regulatory system in which it operates — to set up offshore entities in tax havens around the world.
Over 500 Indians figure on the firm’s list of offshore companies, foundations and trusts. There are also 234 Indian passports (handed over by clients as part of the incorporation process), an eight-month-long investigation of over 36,000 files by The Indian Express has revealed.
Of these, The Indian Express has checked the authenticity of over 300 addresses.
From film stars Amitabh Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan to corporates including DLF owner K P Singh and nine members of his family, and the promoters of Apollo Tyres and Indiabulls to Gautam Adani’s elder brother Vinod Adani. Two politicians who figure on the list are Shishir Bajoria from West Bengal and Anurag Kejriwal, the former chief of the Delhi unit of Loksatta Party.
From Mumbai ganglord the late Iqbal Mirchi, the list includes scores of businessmen with addresses in nondescript neighbourhoods in Panchkula, Dehradun, Vadodara and Mandsaur. Addresses of individuals, in many cases, The Indian Express found out, led to physical locations, but with no trace of the individual.
Or, as in one case, belonged to a tenement in a chawl in Mumbai.
Not just individuals, a close scrutiny of The Panama Papers by The Indian Express also reveals details of hitherto unknown deals, in some cases involving the government, too.
These include cricket franchise deals and, in several cases, linkages to those who have previously been under CBI or Income Tax scrutiny.
As per RBI norms, no Indian citizen could float an overseas entity before 2003 — in 2004, for the first time individuals were allowed to remit funds of up to $25,000 a year under the Liberalised Remittance Scheme, and this limit stands at $250,000 a year now.
But while RBI let individuals buy shares under LRS, it never allowed them to set up companies abroad, having clarified it through an FAQ mid-way in September 2010.
In most of the cases in The Panama Papers, companies were set up long before the rules were changed and the purpose, experts said, was to park foreign exchange in a tax haven. It was only in August 2013 that individuals were allowed to set up subsidiaries or invest in joint ventures under the Overseas Direct Investment window.
The Panama Papers come at a time when the Special Investigating Team (SIT) on black money headed by former Supreme Court Judge M B Shah is finalising its new action-taken report.
The formation of the SIT was the very first decision taken by the Narendra Modi Government in May 2014.
Panama Papers: The Aftermath
Panama Papers - The Aftermath: The fresh investigation of Indian individuals and entities reveals how Mossack Fonseca, which serviced their accounts, scrambled to respond to an unprecedented global crackdown. Significantly, it also confirms the existence of several customers who had hitherto denied any links. And lifts the veil on the financial trail of new clients.
Two years after the Panama Papers blew the lid off how the global elite, including over 500 Indians, park and move their money in and out of secret tax havens, the Panama Papers are back — to reveal telling new details. More than 1.2 million fresh documents, at least 12,000 of them linked to Indians, have been investigated by The Indian Express, in collaboration with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung. Just as was done with the earlier set of over 11.5 million documents in 2016.
This fresh investigation of Indian individuals and entities who figure in this new set of papers reveals how Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, which serviced their accounts, scrambled to respond to an unprecedented global crackdown. Significantly, confirming, in the process, the existence of several customers who had hitherto denied any links. And lifting the veil on the financial trail of new clients.
Clearly, this new set — Panama Papers: The Aftermath — which The Indian Express has investigated, , will provide further teeth to the inquiries and audits ordered by the government and its investigative agencies.
This second lot of the Panama Papers highlights details of offshore companies incorporated by a clutch of Indian businessmen who did not figure in the 2016 leak. These include Ajay Bijli, owner of PVR cinemas, and members of his family; Kavin Bharti Mittal, CEO of Hike Messenger and son of Sunil Mittal; and, Jalaj Ashwin Dani, son of Asian Paints promoter Ashwin Dani.
The new papers also show that several companies set up by Indians were, first, sent notices by Mossack Fonseca (several by November 2016) to produce missing information and these letters mentioned the name/s of the Beneficial Owner (BO), wherever available, or demanded that the name be immediately disclosed.
In the next stage, Mossack Fonseca served 90-day notices to clients informing them that the firm would resign as Registered Agent because the companies failed to meet legal due diligence requirements.
Those whose links to offshore entities have been confirmed by Mossack Fonseca in a series of messages include Shiv Khemka, Amitabh Bachchan, Jehangir Sorabjee, K P Singh of the DLF Group and his immediate family, Anurag Kejriwal, Navin Mehra of Mehrasons Jewellers and Hajra Iqbal Memon and his family.
An illustrative case is how, shortly after the 2016 expose, Mossack Fonseca, in its communications, named Amitabh Bachchan as director of two companies Lady Shipping Ltd and Treasure Shipping Ltd and, subsequently, served the 90-day notice to him via UK-based Minerva Trust — the administrator for these companies — addressing him as director of a third company, Sea Bulk Shipping Company Ltd. The notice conveyed Mossack Fonseca’s intent to resign as the company’s agent saying that Sea Bulk Shipping did not fulfil “our due diligence requirements”.
Bachchan, who is under official scrutiny in connection with the Panama Papers, has denied any link to these companies and did not respond to an email sent by The Indian Express earlier this week.
Panama Papers: New records reveal fresh financial secrets of Indian clientsThousands of new documents connected to Mossack Fonseca’s Indian clients also reveal a disparate pattern — while some Indian owners of offshore companies rushed to liquidate their firms, others asked Mossack Fonseca to continue as their agent. Some even increased their holdings — like Lokesh Sharma, owner of British Virgin Islands-based Mardi Gras Holdings, who increased the authorised share capital 30 times in February 2017.
While P R S Oberoi resigned as director of J&W Inc, a Bahamas company, in May 2016, Shishir Bajoria, who claimed his name in Mossack Fonseca records was a clerical mistake, contacted Mossack Fonseca through an intermediary to change the beneficial ownership of Haptic (BVI) Ltd which was liquidated in May 2016…
Particularly revealing is a May 9, 2016 email received by Mossack Fonseca from P P Shah and Associates, a Mumbai-based accountancy firm, in connection with offshore entity Whitefield Global Investments Ltd, whose beneficiaries are Baroda-based Chirayu Amin and members of his family.
It couldn’t be more direct: “Huge turbulence is started in the financial world including India. We need to respond to the Indian authorities asap as they have initiated inquiries based on the leaked report and documents which we understand are by and large correct information and documents…”
The very day of the Panama Papers expose, the Indian government had announced a probe by a Multi Agency Group (MAG).
Panama Papers: Two years on
Two years on, the information from the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) — which heads the probe unit — is that in all, 426 Indians named in the Panama Papers have been put under the scanner and, until June 2018, Rs 1,088 crore ($162.4 million) of undisclosed income has been detected.
The tax authorities continue to take action against those named in the Panama Papers and until November 2017, searches and surveys have been conducted in 58 cases. Prosecutions against 16 Indians named in the Panama Papers have been filed in courts.
As recently as June 13, three Delhi-based owners of entities were subject of early-morning simultaneous searches. They are Devesh Bahl and Rajeev Vaid (BVI entity: Pythhos Technology); Mohit Jain (BVI entity: Om Metals SPRL Limited) and Gurpal Singh Khurana (BVI entity: Top India Limited).
Prominent Indian names in the Panama Papers, 2016
The posts below have been arranged in the alphabetical order of the company’s name or the first- mentioned individual’s surname
Write back | Why drag me in brother’s business: Adani
Responding to The Indian Express report ‘2 months after Adani brother set up firm in Bahamas, a request to change name to Shah’, a statement released by the Adani Group stated that “the reported account holder — Mr Vinod Adani who is the elder brother of Mr Gautam Adani has been a Non-Resident Indian (NRI) for about 30 years and has his own established business interests outside India”.
“It is strange that Mr Gautam Adani’s name is mentioned in the headline though he is not the account holder and the story actually pertains to Indians having not legitimate bank accounts abroad. This is a deliberate attempt to draw Mr Gautam Adani’s name, not just to mislead the readers at large but mischievously sensationalising the matter,” it stated.
“Adani Group and the Indian resident family members of Adani family always conduct transactions within the framework of extant regulatory guidelines and provisions. We welcome the government initiatives to reach to the bottom of this matter pertaining to the black money trail including Panama leaks and assure our fullest cooperation in any kind of investigation for that matter,” it stated.
Offshore entity: Project and Management Services Ltd
Project and Management Services Limited was registered and incorporated on August 7, 1997. Gopal Anand held all 100 ordinary shares since August 15, 1997. It was struck off the register on April 30, 2015.
Anand, 70, is an MBA from XLRI who worked for over 40 years from 1974 in Africa as a management consultant. He no longer resides in the Bengaluru address listed in MF files but lives elsewhere in the city, along with his wife Tara.
Records with the Registrar of Companies show that an Indian firm Ojas Diamonds Pvt Ltd — with Tara and Mumbai industrialist P D Jhaveri as partners — was registered in September 1990 at the same address listed in MF files. A January 2000 Memorandum of Association of a medical transcription firm called New Planet Solutions Pvt Ltd, where Anand is a director, also shows the address listed by MF for the BVI entity.
RESPONSE: “I specialised in rescuing sick companies in Africa. I have been an NRI since 1974 and only moved back here a couple of years ago. I started Project Management Services at a cost of $ 500 to provide consultancy services to rescue African companies. I was based abroad and did not move any money from India to the firm. The firm is closed now. I have been residing in India and paying taxes here over the last two years,” Gopal Anand said.
“Since I was working in Africa I was not paying taxes in India until two years ago and there was no requirement for clearances from India to set up PMS. I stopped running the firm which was providing managerial services to companies in Africa around five to six years ago,’’ Anand said.
– Johnson TA/Bengaluru
Shishir K Bajoria
Offshore entity: Haptic (BVI) Limited
Location: British Virgin Islands (BVI)
Shishir-BAJORIA-BJP-759Shishir K Bajoria belongs to one of the oldest business families in Kolkata trading in jute and tea. He is the promoter of SK Bajoria Group, which has steel refractory units in six countries with an annual turnover of $200 million.
Bajoria is listed as a beneficial owner of Haptic (BVI) Limited, which was set up in the BVI on October 26, 2015 by Mossack Fonseca & Co (MF) along with First Names Group (Isle of Man), a corporate services provider.
MF records show the entity was formed “to receive assets from sister company and settle new trust” with its activities to be carried out “in Isle of Man/UK”. The value of its assets was more than $1 million. On December 2, 2015, First Names Group proposed to liquidate the company.
Core Holdings Corp (Charlestown, St Kitts and Nevis) was appointed the director and one share was issued to Castle Hill (Nominees) Ltd (Isle of Man). MF records for Haptic include a copy of Bajoria’s passport (Z002543) as proof of identity and lists Alipore in Kolkata as his India address. A close associate of former chief minister late Jyoti Basu, Bajoria quit his CPI-M membership and joined the BJP in August 2014. He is one of the key BJP campaigners in the upcoming assembly polls in West Bengal.
Response: “My family through a private limited company holds majority shareholding of IFGL Refractories Ltd which has a subsidiary IFGL Worldwide Holdings Ltd (IWHL) in Isle of Man. Also, my wife and myself are shareholders of Sonnish Ltd, another Isle of Man company. So I am a client of First Names Group, Isle of Man. I have not, nor have ever, owned (beneficially or otherwise) Haptic BVI Ltd. I believe that any connection to me was made in error,” said Bajoria.
First Names Group representative C G Hepburn said: “We made an administrative error on a form which we sent to Mossack Fonseca. The erroneous beneficial owner information on the form was entirely our fault, as was the enclosure of the copy verification document.”
— Jay Mazoomdaar/New Delhi
Overseas entity: Walker Foundation
Gargi Barooah, daughter-in-law of the late Dr Hemendra Prasad Barooah, Padma Shri and the grand old man of Assam’s tea industry, was the sole beneficiary of Walker Foundation set up in Panama in April 2010. Gargi moved to the US with her minor daughter in 2010.
Both Gargi and her daughter are shareholders in BA Industries, the family group of companies that controls more than half a dozen tea gardens in Assam. Gargi has also served as a non-executive director in B&A Packaging India Ltd and B&A Multiwall Packaging Ltd since February 2008.
Through Mossack Fonseca, Uruguay firm CHT Asesores y Consultores set up Walker Foundation in Panama on April 8, 2010, and Walker Investments Management INC in the British Virgin Islands on April 15, 2010. One Mark Cassidy, a British citizen with a California address, was the Protector of the Panama foundation and the sole director of the BVI company. Gargi Barooah was the sole beneficiary of the foundation, and one Rory Mark Keegan, a British citizen with an Italy address, held all 50,000 shares at $1 each in the company, Mossack Fonseca records show.
Walker Foundation was set up with assets not less than $10,000 which “consisted of funds deposited in Hordeñana y Asociados Sociedad de Bolsa SA”. The Uruguayan firm is controlled by financial consultant Gonzalo Carlos Hordeñana. Hordeñana is also the founding partner of Baker Tilly Uruguay, a member of Baker Tilly International, a global network of accountancy and business advisory firms.
Sometime in 2012, records show, Barooah stopped responding, and Baker Tilly Uruguay told Mossack Fonseca that all office bearers and the registered agent of Walker Foundation would have to find a way to resign independently since it was unclear if the client wanted to continue or dissolve the foundation. Walker Investments Management INC (BVI) too was inactivated on October 31, 2012.
— Jay Mazoomdaar/New Delhi
Sylvia Fay Bhatia & Alok Bhatia
Overseas entities: Hazelwood Enterprises Limited, Others
Location: British Virgin Islands
Mossack Fonseca documents show that Sylvia Fay Bhatia owns at least five companies in the British Virgin Islands either herself or with her husband Alok Bhatia. The address given is of Saket, New Delhi. Sylvia is the daughter of Australian mining billionaire Chris Wallin.
Since September 2004, Mossack Fonseca records show, Sylvia has been the director and sole shareholder in Comme Trading Limited which, in turn, is director and sole shareholder in Watami Trading Limited. Both companies were incorporated in the BVI in April 2004.
According to the documents, Comme also became sole shareholder of Giant Gold Holdings Limited (BVI), which was previously held by a bearer share, in September 2004. Between September 2004 and June 2007, Comme also held shares of Asian Coal Holdings Limited (BVI). The shares were transferred to Coal PTY Limited (Australia).
Mossack Fonseca records that in October 2005, Sylvia changed her surname — Wallin to Bhatia — and her Australian passport number. In September 2009, she set up Lombard Global Group Limited (BVI) as the sole shareholder. In March 2011, the shares were transferred to Watami Trading, also owned by her through Comme Trading.
In October 2006, Sylvia became sole shareholder of Hazelwood Enterprises Limited, a company incorporated in the BVI in August that year. Husband Alok became 50 per cent stakeholder in August 2008. Documents submitted in March 2015 show that they held 100 shares each.
In 2006, Sylvia Fay Bhatia became sole shareholder of Hazelwood
In May 2014, Mossack Fonseca-BVI said “as a Corporate Service Provider… bound to observe the respective anti-money laundering laws”, it required basic due diligence information on these companies. The Mossack Fonseca-Hong Kong office, however, asked the BVI office to wait. “We will ask the DD (due diligence) from this client when they have any new request of their companies,” it wrote in an email on December 19, 2014.
RESPONSE: Sylvia and Alok Bhatia did not respond to a questionnaire which was delivered by hand at their Saket residence in New Delhi.
Jay Mazoomdaar/New Delhi
Offshore entity: Arts Alliance Media BVI Ltd
Nish Bhutani, global head of product at Vuclip, a US-based online video-on-demand firm, held 3.41 per cent, or 34,583 ordinary shares of $ 0.01 value each, in Arts Alliance Media BVI Ltd. The company was incorporated on April 17, 2003 in the BVI. His residence mentioned in the Mossack Fonseca documents is 26 Ridge Road, Malabar Hill, Mumbai. The bulk of the shareholding in the company — 81.55% or 827,416 shares — is with a company called Cheetah International Investments Ltd, headquartered in Guernsey.
Bhutani joined Vuclip in March this year. The company has recently launched its online streaming service Viu in India. Before joining Vuclip, Bhutani was senior vice president of online retailer Myntra.com. Between September 2008 and June 2015, he was the chief operating officer of Saffronart, the world’s largest online auctioneer for fine art and collectibles. Bhutani moved Saffronart to a tech platform. Since then, Saffronart has held several highly successful online auctions, accompanied by physical catalogues and preview events in cities like Mumbai, New Delhi, New York, London and Hong Kong. Bhutani has also co-founded London-based Arts Alliance Media, which runs the largest digital cinema network outside the US. He was on the board and senior management of Lovefilm, Europe’s largest online movie subscription service, which was acquired by Amazon.
RESPONSE: When contacted, Bhutani told The Indian Express, “I have been a US citizen since 1999, and moved to India in 2008. These shares were given to me by my employer as part of an employee incentive plan, when I was working in the UK. As I am now an Indian resident, these shares have been fully disclosed to the Indian tax authorities as part of my foreign assets declaration.”
— KHUSHBOO NARAYAN/MUMBAI
Preetam Bothra and Sweta Gupta
Offshore entities: World Wide Group Holding Limited, Jupiter Group Holding Limited
Bothra and Gupta are shareholders of World Wide Group Holding Limited and Jupiter Group Holding Limited, two companies formed in BVI in 2004. Between them, Bothra (60,000) and Gupta (40,000) hold all shares of World Wide Group Holding Limited since May 2013. Earlier, the shares were held by Jupiter Group Holding Limited (BVI) and Triansu Holdings Limited (BVI).
In May 2013, Pradip and Kritin Bothra transferred 40,000 shares of Jupiter Group Holding Limited (BVI) to Preetam Bothra and Sweta Gupta, who got 20,000 shares each, the MF papers show. Additionally, Preetam held 15,000 shares of Jupiter (BVI) since 2004, of which he transferred 5,000 to Pradip in 2009. In all, Preetam and Sweta hold 30,000 and 20,000 shares of Jupiter (BVI). Triansu Holdings Limited (BVI) was set up in January 2005 and inactivated in October 2012. Its shareholding remains unclear.
In India, Preetam and Sweta are the directors of Jupiter Nirman Private Limited, incorporated on January 27, 2000. The company has an authorised share capital of Rs 1,000,000 and a paid up capital of Rs 265,000 and is involved in civil construction.
RESPONSE: When contacted, Sweta Gupta said: “Why should I share any such details with The Indian Express?” She subsequently did not respond to detailed queries sent as text messages.
— Aniruddha Ghosal/Kolkata
Pradeep Kaushikray Buch
Offshore entity: Overseas Pearl Limited
MF records show Buch had been a shareholder of Overseas Pearl Limited — which was registered in the BVI in 2001 — at least until 2004. His Vadodara address has been listed in the records. Nine lakh shares of Overseas Pearl Limited have been shown against his name, which were given to him after company resolutions passed in 2001 and 2003. A UAE national and another Vadodara-based businessman are also listed as the company’s shareholders. Buch lives in the Race Course Road area of Vadodara, and says he is an engineer and manager.
RESPONSE: “I have no overseas company. It does not belong to me. I am a professional engineer-manager. I do not know anything about companies like Overseas Pearl Limited. You may be mistaken about the address. I am basically a management consultant for companies in Dubai and Tanzania.”
— Aditi Raja/Vadodara
Offshore entity: Robbins Investments Ltd
On October 1, 1997, the company was incorporated and Samaresh Chakrabarti issued one share. Rima Chakrabarti, listed as his daughter with a New York address, was also issued a share on the same day. Both were appointed as directors on October 1, 1997.
At a meeting held on July 6, 2003, the appointment of Rittick Chakrabarti as a director was confirmed. Rima acted as chairman during the meeting and Samaresh as secretary. The meeting also resolved to issue one share to Rittick, who also listed a New York address. He was issued one share on July 6, 2003. Accordingly, Rittick provided a letter giving consent to act as a director on the same day. Samaresh Chakrabarti died in 2012.
RESPONSE: Samaresh’s brother, Amaresh Chakrabarti, who retired in 2015 from the Reliance facility in Jamnagar, said: “Samaresh worked with Reckitt and Colman and several other companies. His daughter (Rima) and son (Rittick) live in New York. I have never heard of Robbins Investments Ltd. I am not in touch with Rima and Rittick.”
-Aniruddha Ghosal & Esha Roy/ Kolkata
Offshore entity: Hohan Solutions Ltd
MF records show that Amit Chopra, resident of Manimajra in Chandigarh, has been holding 25,000 shares of Hohan Solutions Ltd since the incorporation of the company on December 30, 2011. Sunil Jamndas Mundra, with a Dombivili (East) address in Mumbai, held the other 25,000 shares. Hohan Solutions Ltd was struck off the registry on December 31, 2013.
The Indian Express visited Chopra’s Chandigarh address on May 1 but was unable to meet him. At the residence, his father R B Chopra refused to provide an email ID or phone number.
RESPONSE: “Amit has got nothing to do with the company that you are mentioning,” said R B Chopra, Amit’s father. He added that his son worked with ICICI Bank but refused to provide any details.
Sushila, Prerna and Gaurav Chopra
Offshore entities: Jelenta Investments Limited, Zenith Metallik Alloys Limited
The three Chopras have been shareholders of Jelenta Investments Limited since the company was set up in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) on April 9, 2010. Jelenta Investments Limited (BVI), in turn, is the shareholder of Zenith Metallik Alloys Limited, set up in the BVI on April 11, 2012. Records of both companies are kept in Hong Kong.
Sushila, Prerna and Gaurav are also directors of Zenith Metallik Alloys Limited, an Indian company incorporated on February 18, 2011. Its authorised share capital is Rs 120,000,000, and its paid up capital is Rs 110,342,496. This had been a partnership between the members of the Chopra family from October 2006 onward.
The Indian company is described as a complete metals and ferro-alloy solutions firm that specialises in providing raw materials for a range of industries. Associated companies of Zenith Metallik Alloys Ltd (India) include Mayurbhanj Metals Limited, Lall Marketing, Chopra Tobacco Company, Lall Investments Private Ltd, and Mayur General Engineering Limited.
RESPONSE: Gaurav Chopra did not respond to phone calls and messages.
— ANIRUDDHA GHOSAL & ARSHAD ALI/KOLKATA
Dharam Vir Chugh
Offshore entity: Haida Investments Ltd
MF records name Dharam Vir Chugh, a resident of Delhi’s Ashok Vihar, as the beneficial owner of Haida Investments Ltd. A certificate issued by United Bank of India (Kamla Nagar Branch) on May 17, 2007, and Chugh’s driving licence issued on October 6, 2006, are also part of the records.
The company was set up on January 2, 2007. PM Nominees Ltd (BVI) held all 100 shares of the company from April 4, 2007. BVI firm PM Directors Ltd served as director till February 10, 2012. The present director of Haida Investments Ltd is Zuelig Management Corp, another BVI firm.
RESPONSE: “I have no idea about this company. I am a retired 80-year-old man,” Chugh said.
–Aditi Vatsa/New Delhi
Sumant Gaurishanker Daftary & Vasumati Sumant Daftary
Offshore entity: Lila International Ltd
Lila was incorporated on April 15, 2002 with Sumant and Vasumati as the first directors. Both held 50 shares each at a par value of $1 per share. On November 10, 2005, both transferred the shares to Barfield Nominees Ltd. On the same day, Sumant resigned as secretary and their daughter Mala-Sonya Sumant Daftary was appointed managing director. On July 8, 2014, Mala-Sonya, a US citizen with an Egypt address, acquired 100 shares from Barfield Nominees. MF papers list Mala-Sonya’s occupation as “consultant”.
Vasumati passed away on February 20, 2015 while Sumant resides at their listed Mumbai address with his daughter.
RESPONSE: “No comments,” said Mala-Sonya, in response to a questionnaire handed over to her at the Mumbai address.
-Srinath Rao/ Mumbai
Ranjeev Dahuja, Kapil Sain Goel
Offshore entities: Bealls International Corp
Panchkula-based Ranjeev Dahuja and Kapil Sain Goel run Berkeley Automobiles, with dealerships of Hyundai and Tata Motors, in Chandigarh.
MF records list both as directors of Bealls International Corp which was set up in the BVI in June 2012. Both have equal shareholding of 5,000 shares each, and their passports and Panchkula addresses are on record. The company, is, however shown to have been wound up in October 2013.
RESPONSE: Ranjeev Dahuja said: “Kapil and I formed this company a few years ago but we never started any operations under it. It was an offshore company, but we did not operate it for long.”
Kapil Sain Goel said: “Ranjeev and I started this company but we realised soon that there was not enough profit margin in it. We were basically misguided by somebody to begin that venture. But we never operated it. We did not even open any bank account in that company’s name. We just opened it online, and never used it.”
— Varinder Bhatia/Chandigarh
Behram Bomani Dubash
Offshore entity: Zen Services Ltd
Behram Dubash was issued 5,000 shares in Zen Services Limited on December 21, 1998. He ceased to be a shareholder on November 14, 2011. The 5,000 shares were issued to The Ramesh Foundation at the address C/O Domar Heiligkreuz, 6 9990 Vaduz, Liechtenstein, on November 14, 2011.
The company has two directors: Exchange Nominees Limited, appointed on January 17, 2001, and Raztron Limited, appointed on December 21, 1998 — both carry the same Isle of Man address. It was struck off the register for non-payment of licence fees, but restored on March 10, 2003.
RESPONSE: Dubash does not reside at the listed Mumbai address and is based in the USA. “I have been a Non-Resident Indian for many years. This company was set up during the period that I was an NRI and did not require any RBI permission or income-tax reporting. In any case, the company was dissolved years ago,” said Dubash, in response to a questionnaire handed over to his son Tuhad Dubash.
Offshore entity: Al Arkan Trading (Europe) Ltd
Darab Dubash was appointed a director of Al Arkan on April 30, 1998 and resigned on September 26, 2005. On May 25, 1998, Darab Dubash was allotted 1,200 shares of $1 each. On the same day, JDO Secretaries Ltd was allotted 800 shares of $1 each. On October 13, 2000, Dubash transferred his shares to JDO Secretaries Ltd.
On November 15, 2005, the board of directors noted that the beneficial owner (Dubash) had requested that the shares be transferred to Savoy Oak Foundation with an address at Liechtenstein and that the company’s bank accounts held at HSBC in Isle of Man be closed. On November 10, 2011, it was resolved that as per Dubash’s request, on completion of liquidation of Savoy Oak Foundation, the shares be transferred to Dubash again and on to Julius Baer Trust Company (New Zealand). It was also resolved that a bank account in the company’s name be opened at Bank Julius Baer & Co Ltd, Guernsey — and that on receipt of new account numbers, the balance in the HSBC accounts be transferred directly to the new account at Bank Julius Baer & Co Ltd.
RESPONSE: Dubash does not reside at the Mumbai address listed at the time of incorporation of Al Arkan Trading and stays mostly in the USA. “I have been a Non-Resident Indian for the past 20 years. This company was set up when I was a non-resident Indian, therefore Reserve Bank of India and income-tax reporting was not required. I ceased to own any shares in this company several years ago,” said Dubash, in response to a questionnaire handed over to his son Arvind Dubash.
Gandhi Hareshkumar Dwarakadas
Offshore entity: Northglenn Group Ltd
Hareshkumar was issued one share in Northglenn on January 18, 2001, and was appointed a director the same day. Gandhi Viral Haresh, with an Australia address and two passports listed, was issued 49,999 shares on April 3, 2001.
On March 30, 2001, Dwarakadas wrote to the company’s board of directors forwarding remittance of $49,999 as deposit for shares of $1 each with a request to allot the shares. A Certificate of Incumbency of April 9, 2001, states that Dwarakadas was appointed a director on January 18, 2001 and held 50,000 shares of $1 each.
RESPONSE: The Indian Express was not allowed entry at the listed Mumbai address of Dwarakadas. He is yet to respond to a questionnaire handed over at the gate on April 26.
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.
MF documents show that Aditya and Sushma Garware held PoAs in at least six Panamian corporations: Avior SA, VRA Team Corp SA, U R Great SA, Wellman SA, Yukon Portfolio SA and Python Corp. All these corporations were floated in 2008 with Aditya and Sushma being issued PoAs for three years. But these companies were inactive since 2009 and Aditya signed off their dissolution on July 22, 2014.
Another Panamanian entity Orel Corporation SA, too, issued PoAs to Ashok Garware and Maneesha Shah in January 2011 and November 2010, respectively, but these were revoked in July 2012. The Garwares also set up Fujiyama Team Foundation with initial assets of $10,000 and Ashok, Sushma and Aditya as the principal beneficiaries. The public deed for the foundation was signed on October 26, 2010, and it was registered on November 1, 2010. However, it was struck off the register on January 15, 2013.
When contacted, A C Chandarana, company secretary and president Legal & Admin of Global Offshore Services, said: “Your questionnaire pertains to matters which are more than five years old, we have once again checked with Mr Garware and his family (presently travelling), who recalled that there were some entities owned by foreign friends who were considering investments in India and accordingly granted POAs for the said purpose. However, since the intention with which these companies were set up was not executed, the said POAs lapsed and the entities were dissolved.”
“We wish to state that Mr Aditya Garware and Mrs Sushma Garware, as POA holders, were not beneficial owners of the said entities and were advised that there is no requirement of reporting the existence of POA to any authorities. The same applies to Mr Ashok B Garware and Mrs Manisha.
“We once again reiterate, in view of what is stated above, that Mr Ashok B Garware and family are not in any way connected or concerned with the entities mentioned in your email.”
Prasanna V Ghotage and Vaman Kumar
Offshore entity: Nordbell Commercial Ltd
Iron ore exporter Prasanna V Ghotage, 49, his wife Neha, and associate Vaman Kumar were shareholders in Nordbell Commercial Ltd, an offshore company set up in the BVI in July 2007. Ghotage’s mother Vilasini, who, according to the extended family, passed away two years ago, too was a shareholder. In 2010, Ghotage and Vilasini sold 12,000 shares to Vaman Kumar, MF records show.
Ghotage’s PVG Group operated over 3,000 trucks to transport iron ore at the height of the iron ore boom in the Bellary district of Karnataka. Vaman Kumar is an expert in the field of international trade and global commodity trade, especially iron ore.
Two other offshore entities are associated with the group, the MF papers show: Corsol Overseas SA and IRIV Holdings Limited. While Nordbell Commercial Limited is shown in the data to be a sharehoder of Corsol Overseas SA; IRIV Holdings Limited is shown to be a shareholder of Nordbell Commercial Limited.
In 2012, Ghotage, Vaman Kumar and one Manoj Dhirajlal Rajni from Goa, were accused of cheating the public sector BEML of Rs 30 crore, but the Karnataka High Court quashed the case in 2013. Ghotage was also accused of supplying poor quality iron ore by Hira Steel Ltd, a Mumbai firm. In 2015, a Goa police SIT chargesheeted Ghotage for failing to supply iron ore to a Raipur firm after taking an advance of Rs 17.5 crore. Ghotage has been in prison for a while. The Ghotages have several cases of debt recovery, wilful default, cheating, etc. against them.
Nordbell is shown in the MF papers as a Hong Kong based entity whose CEO in some trade documents is identified as Vaman Kumar. The company also had an office in Pune. “It shut down in 2010,” said a former employee of Nordbell Commercial in Pune.
“We have no contact with Prasanna Ghotage’s family or their businesses. His mother died two years ago,’’ said a member of Prasanna Ghotage’s brother Suhas Ghotage’s family, when contacted in Goa. Neither Prasanna Ghotage nor Vaman Kumar could not be contacted.
— Johnson TA/Bengaluru
Rajesh Kumar Gupta
Offshore entity: Southwest Minerals Ltd
MF records show that Rajesh Kumar Gupta, resident of Delhi’s Sainik Farms, is one of the four beneficiary owners of Southwest, which was formed on November 4, 2004. The other three were his cousin Amit Gupta (Shanghai), Xue Qi (Beijing) and Liu Zeng (Beijing), all recorded as residents of China.
Records show that Rajesh Gupta held 8,500 ordinary shares since July 4, 2005 while Amit Gupta held 8,000 shares. Xue held 50,000 shares between November 11, 2004 to July 4, 2005. After July 4, 2005, Xiu held 16,500 shares and Liu held 17,000 shares. Southwest was struck off the registry on April 30, 2015.
RESPONSE: “This is the first time that I have heard of such a company. Amit Gupta is my cousin. We are in the food business and our company manufactures wheat flour. I am the director of Suruchi Foods while Amit Gupta is a shareholder. We have been running this company for more than 20 years. I am a resident of this country. Amit Gupta lives in Sainik Farms, too. He has never lived in Shanghai,” said Rajesh Kumar Gupta over the phone.
–Aditi Vatsa/New Delhi
Satya Prakash Gupta
Overseas entity: Sterling Global Partners Limited
Location: Ras Al Khaimah (UAE)
Delhi businessman Satya Prakash Gupta set up Sterling Global Partners Limited in August 2015 through financial service providers Anglo Manx Trust Company Limited and Mossack Fonseca (MF) in Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates (UAE).
In Delhi, Gupta runs M/s Sterling Security System, “a service providing company for creating business opportunities in India for multinational companies worldwide”, and M/s Sterling Exports. He is also the president of GT Karnal Road CETP Society.
Before setting up the UAE company, Mossack Fonseca records show, the 67-year-old Gupta took up a “full-time job” as Global Head (Marketing and Business Development) with M/s NextGen General Trading LLC (Dubai) in March 2015. His two-year contract from April 1 mentions an annual salary of $100,000 plus performance bonus, and annual travel and business reimbursement up to $1 million.
Soon after setting up Sterling Global Partners Limited in the UAE, records show, Gupta booked a business centre room — Henry VII — for himself in London’s St James’ Court, a Taj hotel, for three years from October 2015 at a “discounted rate” of GBP 1,000 per month.
Earlier, in July 2015, Anglo Manx Trust rushed MF, saying that the client (Gupta) “would like to incorporate as soon as possible” and they “basically just need a name that starts with Sterling or Platinum”.
During the “due diligence process”, Anglo Manx Trust said on August 3 that the “activities of the company will be general trading” and its shareholder would be Grosvenor Nominees Limited of Isle of Man. Copies of the passports of the first directors — British citizens Christopher Smith and Joanne Thompson — provided by Anglo Manx Trust were attached.
Declaring that she would also be the first secretary herself, Joanne Thompson said that the “beneficial owner is Mr Satya Parkash Gupta, H-3/1 Part III, Model Town, Delhi, India. Date of Birth 09/12/1948”. A copy of his passport was attached as proof of identity, the records show.
Sterling Global Partners Limited was set up on August 17, 2015, with a capital of US $100 divided into 100 shares. The company’s registry documents were sent to Dubai-based consultancy firm AbiliTrade.
In November 2015, Anglo Manx Trust sought some referrals from Mossack Fonseca for opening a bank account for Sterling Global in Dubai. They said that they were applying to Barclays UK for a London bank account and “have been advised that Barclays require a minimum turnover of $ 1 billion”.
In December, the shares of Sterling Global were to change hands for the third time. “We will also need to change the shareholding again to the beneficial owner which may be travelling to Dubai in the next week or two,” wrote Thompson.
RESPONSE: In an email, Gupta wrote: “It is correct that I am the beneficiary owner and share holder of Sterling Global Partners Limited set up at Ras Al Khaima (UAE). There are no assets in the company. As there is no acquisition of assets in the company, the question of any source for their acquisition does not arise. We render advisory services for various projects, technologies, commodities, metals and hydrocarbons globally…
“Being an NRI, to my understanding, I am not required to inform Reserve Bank of India. Regarding Income Tax authorities, I informed them regarding my status as NRI at the designated office. There are no bank accounts in Dubai of the company. However, we have opened a bank account in London for functioning of regular business.
— Jay Mazoomdaar/New Delhi
Ismail Umarbhai Hukkawala & Aziza Ismail Hukkawala
Offshore entity: Hina Investments Pvt Ltd
Hina was incorporated on September 9, 1997, and two bearer certificates, each representing 1,250 shares, were issued. On May 31, 2001, 1,250 shares were transferred each to Ismail and his wife Aziza. On May 31, 2004, Aziza received all 2,500 shares. From December 12, 2004, all shares were transferred to Professional Nominees Ltd (till September 9, 2005) and Jupiter Nominees Incorporated (till August 3, 2007). The shares are now held by Minerva Trust Company Ltd. All companies have the same address: 43/45 La Motte Street St. Helier, JE4 8SD, Jersey. Cidel Bank and Trust Inc (Barbados) acted as the trustees for Hinas Trust, the sole shareholder of the company on June 15, 2006.
Ismail Hukkawala died in Abu Dhabi in 2005. Aziza returned to Sabarkantha in Gujarat where she lives with her daughter and son-in-law Shafi Zaaz, a businessman. Hukkawala was employed with state-owned Bank of Baroda and was posted in Abu Dhabi. Zaaz said Hukkawala quit BoB and joined National Bank of Abu Dhabi. He was a chartered accountant and acted as a consultant after retirement, said Zaaz.
RESPONSE: Hukkawala’s son-in-law Shafi Zaaz said: “We have not received any communication from any bank or any government agencies. After he (Hukkawala) passed away due to a heart attack, my mother-in-law returned to Modasa and since then we are living together. Her other three children live in the US.”
Vinod Ramchandra Jadhav
Offshore entities: A number of firms
Vinod Ramchandra Jadhav is the chairman of Pune-based Sava Healthcare, with manufacturing facilities in Ahmednagar and Bangalore. The company is involved in research and development, and manufacture of healthcare products and veterinary products.
MF records show that Jadhav is listed as a director or shareholder in a clutch of offshore firms, mostly set up in the BVI between 2010 to 2015. They include Sava Portfolio Holdings Limited, Easycall Holdings Ltd, STF Portfolio Holding Limited, RIM International Corp and MaplePharm Holdings Inc. Liquidation proceedings have been initiated for at least two of these entities.
RESPONSE: Jadhav stated: “All our global companies and directorships and relevant incomes are declared to RoC (Registrar of Companies), Income Tax and RBI as needed every year. But the same were not declared in last year’s amnesty scheme since it was applicable for companies or individuals which didn’t declare their foreign assets. But myself and Sava group didn’t need to go for an amnesty scheme because we have never hidden any company or asset abroad anytime in the past.”
— Parthasarathi Biswas/Pune
Offshore entities: Sacvinam Global SA, Radiant World Holdings
Location: BVI, Hong Kong
Vivek Jain, a B.Com graduate, runs an agriculture equipment store in Madhya Pradesh. MF records show that he is a director in Sacvinam Global SA, a company registered in the British Virgin Islands in 2010, and a shareholder in Radiant World Holdings, registered in Hong Kong in 2011.
Records show that Jain held 79,000 shares in 2010 of Sacvinam, which has another director named Nahar Pinkesh. Radiant is listed as a shareholder of Sacvinam Global SA and a document dated December 2, 2011 shows that Jain was allotted 8.2 lakh shares of the company. His address in Mandsaur is reflected accurately in MF records.
RESPONSE: Jain said: “I have no idea about the existence of these companies. If a company is registered in my name and my address is given, I should have known. Pinkesh Nahar is the brother of my cousin’s husband Sachin Nahar. Pinkesh is a principal player in the two offshore entities. I was one of the many suppliers of mill scale (the flaky surface of hot rolled steel) and iron ore material that was collected at a plot owned by the brothers at Kandla Port in Gujarat. But in 2014, I stopped working with Sachin and Pinkesh because I made little profit since the export of these items to China stopped. I have had good business relations with the Nahar brothers but never suspected they were into any such activity.”
— Milind Ghatwai/Mandsaur
Offshore entity: Amaya Limited
Art diva opened Seychelles company to hold ‘asset in Switzerland’
In a 2013 interview to Sotheby’s magazine, art collector Amrita Jhaveri, speaking on her Amaya Collection, said the word in Sanskrit means without illusion. Mossack Fonseca documents show that Amaya Limited was the company she set up in Seychelles in 2005, primarily to “hold asset in Switzerland”.
The company was set up as A M Art India Private Limited on July 25, 2005 through HSBC Private Bank (Suisse) SA as client. Jhaveri had the power of attorney and Mossack Fonseca, as the registered agent, provided office bearers. The company issued a bearer share for 5,000 shares at $ 1 each to Jhaveri. It was renamed Amaya Limited on December 8, 2005.
For eight years, interaction between Mossack Fonseca and company administrators was mostly limited to occasional complaints about receiving bulky art catalogues. But it all changed after the Seychelles International Business Companies Act 1994 was amended in November 2013, necessitating change of bearer shares to registered shares and publication of an annual report from 2014 onward.
Told about the new legal requirements, an HSBC Private Bank (Suisse) executive wrote back to Mossack Fonseca in April 2014: “Until we have this subject clarified, we cannot go to our customers to ask for signature of the Indemnity letter as we will need to explain what type of financial records you need. As we only have holding companies for account held in Switzerland, they do not have financial statements. Once you know what type of information is acceptable, kindly let us know?”
In August 2014, documents show, Mossack Fonseca clarified that Amaya required to share details of the company’s activities, names of the countries where these activities were taking place, and a certified copy of Jhaveri’s passport as identity and address proof of the shareholder.
On September 5, 2014, the bearer share issued in 2005 was cancelled and all 5,000 shares were transferred to Jhaveri as resident of 27 Sadhana, Gamadia Road, Mumbai 26. The same day, Amaya indemnified Mossack Fonseca for providing office bearers, and authorised them to furnish company records if requested by the Seychelles Revenue Commission to meet an obligation under a tax treaty or by the Financial Intelligence Authority under the Money Laundering Act.
On January 26, 2015, Axel-Charles Stern, Managing Director, HSBC Private Bank (Suisse), asked Mossack Fonseca to “put it (Amaya) in ‘Struck Off’ status”. In response, Mossack Fonseca advised that if the company was not legally dissolved, it would continue to be active and have legal liabilities until the period for the last paid licence expired, which, in Amaya’s case, would be December 31, 2016.
“It is the duty of the Registered Agent,” Mossack Fonseca said, “to obtain and keep on its file all the pertinent documents for up to 5 years after the termination of the business relationship… Finally, if company is not formally dissolved, before closing the company file in our internal controls, our nominee directors shall revoke any enduring powers issued by them and shall declare that all registers and accounting records are kept at your address”.
On February 5, 2015, Stern confirmed that “the company needs to be ‘struck off’ as the dissolution process in Seychelles is difficult”.
Mossack Fonseca asked Stern to provide pending information on the last activity or purpose of the company and where it was carried out.
“The main activity is to hold asset in Switzerland, with some commercial activities (purchases and sales of paintings),” Stern replied.
Mossack Fonseca removed Amaya Ltd from its internal records and revoked the power of attorney issued to Jhaveri.
RESPONSE: Amrita Jhaveri did not respond to multiple emails and phone calls since March 16. Jhaveri Contemporary’s Mumbai office claimed they received the email only on April 6 and passed on the queries to Jhaveri, who was in London.
-Jay Mazoomdaar/ New Delhi
Offshore entity: J&S Systems Corporation
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.
Apart from Onkar Kanwar, Neeraj Kanwar and Simran Kanwar, who became the first shareholders in J&S on October 6, 2010, shares are also held by Onkar’s wife Taru Kanwar. J&S was registered on July 30, 2010 and the promoters disclosed that the source of funds in the entity would be proceeds from business trade.
Onkar Kanwar is categorised as a Politically Exposed Person by MF’s Compliance Department because he was a board member of the Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation from May 25, 2010 till September 20, 2014.
The address of Taru and Onkar in New Delhi’s Shanti Niketan is the same as that of Neeraj and Simran. In November 2013, the shareholding of J&S showed Onkar held 440 shares, Neeraj 570, Simran 430, Taru 100. Another 200 shares each were held by Simran and Neeraj together for their children Jai Karan and Syra. Records show that Onkar was a registered shareholder till March 14, 2014.
On January 30, 2014, Tara and Onkar floated a settlement called T&O Trust with Harneys Trustees Ltd. The final beneficiaries of the settlement were Jai Karan and Syra. On the same day, Neeraj and Simran floated a settlement S&N Trust with Harneys, listing Jai Karan and Syra as final beneficiaries.
In both cases, records show, the Trust Fund comprising 100 shares were to be split between Jai and Syra equally upon a “terminating event”.
Response: A spokesperson of Apollo Tyres stated: “India lawfully permits foreign investments in accordance with certain regulations. Any investment abroad, that the Kanwar family may have, is in due compliance with Indian laws, where applicable, including making disclosures wherever required. Much of family mentioned in your mail, are Non Residents of India (NRIs). They are covered by other nation’s permissible laws for their foreign investments, and are not covered by Indian laws & restrictions on residents, in matters such as Income Tax and RBI.”
— P Vaidyanathan Iyer/New Delhi
Offshore entity: Perfect Ten Group Ltd
MF records show that Kavita Kapilashrami has been holding all 100 shares in Perfect Ten Group Ltd since November 29, 2010. RFG Nominees Ltd (Bahamas) held these shares from November 10-29, 2010.
Perfect Ten Group (BVI) was set up on July 1, 2010 and holds 100 shares in Pythhos Technology Holding (BVI) Inc since its incorporation on November 29, 2010. The other shareholders of Pythhos are BVI companies Park Presidio Ltd (400 shares) and Vivanta Holding Inc (100 shares), US resident MaryLouise K Dowd (100 shares) and Singapore’s Thakral Pte Ltd (1,220 shares since November 30, 2012). Kapilashrami was not available at the listed address in Gurgaon, and neighbours said she had shifted to another residence in the city a few years ago. When contacted, Kapilashrami described herself as “a vedic astrologer” with more than 10 years of experience and said that her husband was an entrepreneur.
RESPONSE: “I am no longer the beneficiary of Pythhos Technology Holding. I don’t know about Perfect Ten Group,” said Kapilashrami over the phone.
–Abhishek Angad/New Delhi
No. of offshore entities: 3 plus 2 foundations
Location: British Virgin Islands (BVI), Panama
Anurag Kejriwal was the Delhi president of Lok Satta Party before being expelled following a purported sting operation by a TV channel ahead of the 201 4 Lok Sabha elections. MF records list him as a director in at least three offshore entities in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and show that he floated at least two private foundations in Panama. He is also shown as holding power of attorney of another BVI company.
The Lok Satta was founded in 2006 by Jayaprakash Narayan, a former IAS officer. Kejriwal led the party’s unit in Delhi and was a member of its National Steering Committee but was expelled after the sting operation in April 2014. He lives in Delhi, has business interests in Kolkata.
The first company that the Kejriwals set up in BVI was Nedstar Ltd
Lok Satta had announced the candidature of Kejriwal from Krishna Nagar constituency for the Delhi assembly elections in December 2013, ten months after he was elected its state unit chief. The party, however, did not field any candidate in Delhi.
Kejriwal is a director in at least three offshore companies — Newington Group Trading Ltd, Nedstar Commercial Ltd and Krims Investments Inc – all registered in BVI. He also holds power of attorney with all rights in another company called Biscay Overseas Ltd, also registered in BVI.
The Kejriwal family has also floated two private foundations — The Nedstar Foundation and The Pruak Foundation. Nedstar Commercial also entered into a trade finance agreement with BNP Paribas (Suisse) SA to partly fund the sale and purchase of goods on September 3, 2007.
Anurag and wife Uttara Kejriwal are primary beneficiaries of the Nedstar Foundation and Pruak Foundation. Both foundations had initial assets of $10,000, and the final beneficiary was Priyavrata Kejriwal, the couple’s son, a minor.
Kejriwal, according to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs data, is a director in three companies — Anurag Intex (Chem) Pvt Ltd, Prawnex Seafoods International Ltd and Sucant Investments Pvt Ltd. Uttara is a director in two of these companies — Anurag Intex and Prawnex Seafoods. All the three companies are “active”, as per the data.
Anurag Intex, headquartered in Kolkata, West Bengal, is also a shareholder in BVI-registered Nedstar Commercial Limited. Anurag, Uttara and Tara Kejriwal are the other shareholders in Nedstar Commercial Ltd.
Kejriwal and Uttara were appointed as directors in Newington Group Trading Limited on April 27, 2009. But within a year, as they exited the entity, MF provided one of its own companies Directorship Management Ltd to act as a director on July 30, 2010. The same day, the board authorised Anurag to represent the company in India and Singapore in proceedings by or against the company.
On August 25, 2010, the board granted a General Power of Attorney to Kejriwal. In other words, Kejriwal got to control all affairs of the company, without his name showing as a director in the company.
The first BVI company the Kejriwals set up was Nedstar Commercial Ltd. The BVI firm’s Register of Members shows Anurag, Uttara, Tara and Kolkata-headquartered Anurag Intex (Chem) Private Ltd as members at various points of time from May 21, 2007 till December 15, 2008. Finally, The Nedstar Foundation became the sole member.
RESPONSE: Anurag Kejriwal said: “I am a businessman, and I trade in iron ore. We acted as agents. We got commissions through proper business channels. My partners had agreed to finance or support the exports of iron ore. So they said I could set up these entities. A chartered accountant helped us set them up.”
On whether he had informed Indian authorities about these companies, Kejriwal said: “The offshore bug did bite me. But I soon realised that setting up entities in BVI and Panama can land me in problems. Nothing remains a secret. Moreover, there were too many hassles with the Reserve Bank of India rules relating to offshore. When these entities were set up, the RBI’s Liberalised Remittance Scheme (LRS) allowed an individual to spend up to $100,000 a year abroad. But I was told that all income whatsoever earned in the offshore entities had to be brought back to India every three months. Moreover, getting bank credit for exports was not so easy. The foreign banks ask for a strong capital base, which we did not have. So these entities were closed down by 2010. The two foundations were closed within a short period of them being set up.”
—P Vaidyanathan Iyer/New Delhi
Offshore entity: Ingold Resources Ltd
Ingold was incorporated on February 26, 2001 and issued 50,000 bearer shares on April 4, 2001. MF records show that these shares were transferred to Amrendra Kumar, then listed as a resident of Moscow, on March 9, 2010. Records also show that Kumar is the beneficial owner of Ingold.
The other listed address of Amrendra is in Gurgaon, which is a bungalow that was under renovation when The Indian Express visited on April 27. No one was available for comment at the address, but when Amrendra’s father Ram Nath Singh was contacted on a telephone number provided by neighbours, he denied any knowledge of Ingold and said that his son was working in Dubai.
Mossack Fonseca (MF) records show that Ingold entered into a Trade Finance Security Agreement dated October 8, 2001 with BNP Paribas (Suisse) SA and the discharge date was February 2, 2014.
RESPONSE: “I’ll not be able to respond to your emails but let me tell you that I have been an NRI for over 25 years now,” said Amrendra Kumar over phone.
-Abhishek Angad/New Delhi
Bhavanasi Jaya Kumar
Offshore entities: Nandan Technologies Ltd, Yes de Ventures SA, Grandbay Canal Ltd, Others
Hyderabad-based businessman Bhavanasi Jaya Kumar figures in the MF records as a director of some of these companies along with Srinivas Prasad and Volam Bhaskar Rao. Nandan Technologies Ltd, the records show, was opened in the BVI in 2008, and Grandbay Canal Ltd in 2015. Jaya Kumar was director of six companies associated with Nandan Technologies.
RESPONSE: Jaya Kumar said: “I have nothing to do with offshore companies like Nandan Technologies Ltd, Yes de Ventures SA or Grandbay Canal Ltd. Volam Bhaskar Rao was the managing director who handled everything. I am not aware of any offshore accounts. The original company Nandan Technologies was closed down in 2014.” On Lotus Integrated Solutions and Lucid Info, two other companies that figure in the MF list, Jaya Kumar first denied knowledge. When told that the address of both companies is his flat, No. 204 in Meenakshi Royal Court Apartments, he said they were his wife’s companies. He denied being associated with Sika Securities or Bee Pee Investments.
On the legality of the firms, he said: “I do not know what is the status now, it has been five years. But we took all necessary permissions. I have no knowledge about declarations to tax authorities.”
— Sreenivas Janyala/Hyderabad
Jagpreet Singh Lamba
Offshore entity: Petunia Group Holdings Ltd
Records show Jagpreet Singh Lamba, resident of Delhi’s Defence Colony, is the beneficial owner of Petunia Holdings Ltd. The company was set up on November 18, 2013 as a shelf company. It was acquired on January 6, 2014 and MTC Investments Ltd (Dubai) held one share till it was transferred to Lamba on March 12, 2014.
MCD UAE Ltd, represented by Tara Kelly and Mehul Goradia, acted as the sole director of Petunia Holdings Ltd (BVI). According to minerva-trust.com, Kelly and Goradia are members of the Dubai team of Minerva Trust (Jersey), a corporate service provider.
On June 11, 2015, Petunia Holdings Ltd (BVI) dissolved its subsidiary Aoon Intertrade FZE based in Sharjah International Airport Free (SAIF) Zone due to “slowdown in business”.
RESPONSE: At his Defence Colony residence, Lamba’s wife said he was travelling abroad. Speaking over the phone, Lamba said he would ask his “office to email all the details”. His office is yet to respond. The Indian Express delivered a questionnaire at Lamba’s residence but is yet to receive a response.
–Jay Mazoomdaar/New Delhi
Offshore entity: Dependable Investments Ltd
Location: British Virgin Islands (BVI)
Bharmal Lodha is a director and shareholder in the company that was incorporated on January 2, 1996. On December 1, 2000, Lodha was issued two share certificates, the first representing one share and the second representing 7,999 shares. On the same day, he was also appointed a director. Mossack Fonseca (MF) documents describe his profession as ‘merchant’. On October 20, 2010, Lodha signed a resolution that the Register of Directors and Register of Members be adopted as the original RoD and RoM of the company.
Lodha was appointed as director by Hemendra Narharilal Patel, an NRI with a Kowloon address, who was himself appointed as a director in the company on January 29, 1996. On the same day, he was issued one share and subsequently issued 1,999 shares on December 1, 2000. In February 2012, Louis Lai & Luk, a Certified Public Accountant representing Dependable informed MF that the company will not pay the annual licence fee and registered agent fee for 2012 and will let the BVI government strike it off for non-payment. It also resigned as administrator for Dependable. The company was struck off the register on October 31, 2012.
RESPONSE: “Dependable Investments Limited, British Virgin Islands, was set up by my former employer Hemendra Patel. He is an NRI. I was employed with him at a steel firm in Dubai in 2000. He used my name as a director and shareholder. I don’t know why he floated the company. I don’t know whether RBI permission was sought to incorporate the company. I was an NRI between 1998 and 2001 and was not required to disclose the information to income-tax authorities. I contacted Patel recently and he told me that the company was closed a long time ago. I have asked him for the closure certificate and he said that he is currently in Hong Kong and would send it to me once he is back in India.”
– Srinath Rao/Mumbai
Mohan Lal Lohia
Offshore entities: Venton Group Ltd, Lohia Charitable Foundation
Location:BVI & Panama
Well-known industrialist Mohan Lal Lohia is Chairman Emeritus of Indo Rama Synthetics and Chairman of Indo Rama Holdings Ltd. MF documents show that Lohia is the “first director” of Venton Group Ltd, registered in the BVI in 2007 with its objectives listed as “broad” and India address as Greater Kailash in New Delhi. In November 2012, MF was instructed via email to let Venton “die a natural death”.
MF records show that Lohia also set up the Lohia Charitable Foundation, an NGO, in Panama in January 2010 with a corpus of $10,000. Apart from Lohia, his grandson Amit Lohia and daughter-in-law Seema Lohia are listed as members of the foundation’s family council. There are no closure documents available for the foundation, with records listing communication, such as requests for copies of incumbency certificates, till as late as July 2015.
Response: A company spokesperson said: “Mohan Lal Lohia is father of Shri Om Prakash Lohia, chairman and managing director of our company. Mohan Lal Lohia, Seema Lohia and Amit Lohia all are non-residents and are settled abroad. Although I am not aware about the overseas entities as stated in your mail, however, to my understanding activities carried overseas by NRIs are not required to be informed to Income Tax authorities or Reserve Bank of India in India.”
— Ritu Sarin/New Delhi
Offshore entity: E&P Onlookers Limited
Ashok Malhotra was the shareholder and director of E&P Onlookers Ltd, a company set up in the British Virgin Islands on September 25, 2008, according to MF records. Sandeep Rastogi, a British citizen, was the company’s first director. Malhotra became the director of E&P Onlookers Ltd on February 18, 2009. Sandeep Rastogi resigned and transferred all five shares to Malhotra, records show.
They show that Malhotra held the shares at least till September 4, 2009, and signed a resolution as the sole director of E&P Onlookers Limited (BVI) on November 10, 2009. E&P Onlookers Ltd was inactivated on June 28, 2010.
RESPONSE: Malhotra said: “Sandeep Rastogi is a friend. Even if the shares were transferred, as you say, I don’t remember that at all. It had been a long time and the shares were sold off immediately. It was only for a month or so.”
— Aniruddha Ghosal/Kolkata
Offshore entity: E&P Onlookers Limited
Living in a modest peach coloured apartment building at 35B Prince Ghulam Mohammad Shah Road, 63-year-old Ashok Malhotra is being administered medication. “I have cancer,” he says, adding,”I am very unwell, I won’t be able to talk much.”
Malhotra, who figures in the Mossack Fonseca (MF) papers, says he knows of the case. “When is it being published? Someone from The Indian Express office had called me. I won’t be able to give you details. This was years ago. I had the company E&P Onlookers Limited, but just for a couple of months. There was a middleman,” he says.
Asked what he does, Malhotra first says “offshore”, then adds mysteriously, “oil”.
But he quickly changes his story. “I was in service,” he says. “I was in sales in the Kolkata branch of a Delhi-based company. I can’t tell you the name of the company. I am retired now, and live here with my family. My son doesn’t live in Kolkata. Look at my home, does it look like the home of someone who has a lot of wealth?” he asks.
Originally from Himachal, Malhotra says he has lived in Kolkata all his life.
In a neighbouring colony, another house rented out to small-time construction company, is listed as Malhotra’s office address on listings sites on the Internet. The address is 60/112 Hari Pada Dutta Lane, and the name of the office is listed as Swift Consultants Private Limited. Landlady Devika Roy says, “Yes, Ashok Malhotra had an office here. But that was some six-seven years ago. I don’t know what they did, he never came himself. Two of his boys would come and sit here.”
— Esha Roy/Kolkata
Offshore entities: JM Group of Companies Ltd, Others
Location: BVI, Cyprus
A major player in men’s fashion clothing, Johnny Manglani has registered a host of offshore entities in the BVI and Cyprus. There are almost 1,000 MF documents listed for one of them, JM Group of Companies Ltd, which was registered in 2007, including records of at least seven other Cyprus firms of which it is shown as the holding company. Manglani’s wife Elmira and daughters Anita and Dasha are listed as shareholders of JM Group of Companies Ltd.
JM Group of Companies was incorporated in the BVI in 2007
An MF mail from 2013 shows that all these companies trade in fashion garments from Italian manufacturers such as Corneliani, Artioli, Belvest, Dalmine and Raffaele Caruso Hettabretz, and the French company Zilli. Manglani runs at least 12 Italian couture boutiques in Russia, with other stores opening in Macau and Singapore.
Manglani has also set up another company, Uomo Collezioni Corporation, which is also the name of his flagship stores abroad. It was set up in 2007 in the BVI with the holding company JM Group of Companies Ltd as its shareholder. All the shares of another company, Hepworth Investments Ltd, have been pledged to the holding company.
MF documents show that in July 2011 he arranged for a revolving overdraft facility of Euro 2.5 million from a Bank in Cyprus. Documents show the revolving overdraft was taken in the name of Jadem Limited with the “purpose” of financing working capital needs (purchase of inventory) relating to trading of fashion garments in Russia under the Uomo Collezioni trademark. The guarantor for the agreement is Manglani himself. Manglani’s Mumbai address islisted in several other company incorporation documents and the passport provided to MF.
RESPONSE: Manglani said: “I am a Singaporean citizen and want to clarify that I am not aware of the information below (the questions sent to him)… I highly recommend that you chase corrupt Indian citizens and crooked businessmen rather than Singaporeans…”
— RITU SARIN/NEW DELHI
Offshore entities: Soul Rhythm International Limited, Others
Thiruvananthapuram native George Mathew is a chartered accountant who moved to Singapore 12 years ago. He launched a firm, Future Books, which describes itself as a one-stop service-provider for setting up companies.
MF records show Mathew has been associated with a clutch of offshore entities registered in the BVI around 2011. He is shown as a director or nominee director, and several Powers of Attorney have been signed by him for the companies, among which there is a lot of cross-shareholding. BVI companies linked to him include Soul Rhythm International Limited, Seabridge Group Holdings Ltd, Azaxel Asset Holdings Limited, Hallwood Enterprise Ltd, and The Wonderful Solutions Corporation. MF records contain his addresses in Singapore and Kerala.
RESPONSE: Mathew told The Indian Express from Singapore that he has been an NRI for several years, and RBI regulations did not apply to him. “For the last 12 years, I have been away from India,” he said. Asked about Wonderful Solutions and Soul Rhythm International Limited, Mathew said: “These companies belong to our clients, who are natives of Singapore. The RBI and the Income-Tax Department of India have little to do with them.”
— Shaju Philip/ Thiruvananthapuram
Thomas Peediakkal Parambil Mathew & Pirwani Abdul Kadar Kasambhai
Offshore entity: Pamkind Ltd
On February 8, 2001, Pamkind was incorporated, and Thomas Mathew and Pirwani Abdul Kadar Kasambhai issued one share each and appointed directors.
Mathew has been working in Indonesia for the last two years. He worked for a firm in Bahrain in the 1990s before moving to the UK and back to Alappuzha in Kerala. Later, Mathew went to Malaysia and returned to Alappuzha before moving to Indonesia.
Kadar Pirwani is a resident of Adamji Nagar in Vartej village on the outskirts of Bhavnagar city. Pirwani, who studied up to Class VIII, helped his father in the family business of brick kilns before entering the ship-breaking industry in 1990-91. He partnered with Ajay Kumar Bhatia of Punjab and started recycling ships under the banner Baldev Shipbreakers at the Alang yard in Bhavnagar.
Gujarat Maritime Board took possession of the plot of Baldev Shipbreakers in 2001-02, says Pirwani, adding that the matter is pending in Gujarat High Court. Pirwani said he now trades in metal scrap while Bhatia has settled in Dubai.
RESPONSE: Pirwani said he came in contact with Mathew after deciding to form a shell company. “We incorporated a company to purchase ships. But the company couldn’t do any business and we closed it down within two years. Mathew was a broker who provided the service of incorporating offshore companies. We gave him around Rs 1 lakh and provided details of my passport for setting up the company. He also became a director. We chose the Bahamas as one could set up a company there with a capital of just $1 and because ships were available there. He spent around Rs 50,000 for incorporating the company kept the balance Rs 50,000 as his profit for the services provided,” said Pirwani.
“The company never did any business. I did not even receive papers of its incorporation. Matthew told me that the formality of setting up the firm had been completed. After the recycling plot was taken away from us by the GMB, we defaulted on a bank loan and decided to close down Pamkind Limited,” said Pirwani. Asked if he obtained RBI permission, Pirwani said, “It was not an investment. I had given the money to Mathew for setting up the new company. Even if it is treated as investment in an overseas company, the amount was just $1, which would not require RBI permission.”
“Almost all ship-breakers have an overseas firm since incorporating one is so cheap. Plus, in the event of a ship capsizing or its operation being halted due to any claim, the liability will be just $1,” he said.
When contacted on April 28, Thomas Mathew’s wife Asha Thomas said: “He might have launched the firm in the Bahamas when he was in the UK in the early 2000s. But it did not take off. He might have registered the firm but not undertake any business activity. I don’t know anything more,’’ she said. Thomas declined to provide Mathew’s contact details in Indonesia and said she had asked him “to call you back’. He is yet to respond.
-Shaju Philip/Alappuzha & Gopal Kateshiya/Bhavnagar
Ashwani Kumar Mehra
No. of offshore entities: 7
Location: Bahamas and BVI
Owner of Mehrasons Jewellers, Ashwani Kumar Mehra’s corporate profile lists his sons, Deepak Mehra and Navin Mehra, as partners in his jewellery empire.
Since 1999, the family has registered seven offshore companies in the Bahamas and the British Virgin Islands. Among them, PTC Group Ltd is shown to be either a secretary or shareholder in the other companies.
Panama Papers India, Part 1: Clients who knocked on a Panama door
Mossack Fonseca (MF) records show that apart from Mehra, wife Mala Rani and their two sons, two of these offshore entities — Maxhill Holdings Ltd and Stonebay International Ltd — have listed his daughters-in-law, Pooja and Shalini, as directors. Romi Sahai, a director with Minerva Trust, is shown as a director in some of these companies. Records show Mehra’s India address as New Delhi’s South Extension in public corporate records and Panchsheel Park in registration records, incorporation data and share certificates.
Records for one of the entities, Stonebay International Ltd, show MF officials reminding the Mehras about providing a declaration of their source of funds and wealth. The reply, submitted in writing purportedly by Navin Mehra, states that the company deals with “property holding” with “borrowings/loans” as the source of funds, with a specific entry on borrowings from Maxhill Holdings Ltd.
MF records linked to PTC Group Ltd show that in December 2009, the company transferred 2,398 shares to Ashwani Kumar Mehra, with each share valued at a premium of $499. Records also show that the registered agents were changed more than once for entities such as Univi Corporate Limited, AEH Services Ltd and Asian Investment and Marketing Company Ltd.
RESPONSE: Deepak Mehra said: “Yes, me and my family members are/were shareholders of the two offshore companies named Stonebay International Limited and Maxhill Holdings Ltd. These two companies were incorporated sometime in 2010 under the Liberalised Remittance Scheme (LRS). We have remitted all funds into these companies from India through normal banking channels as permitted by law under the LRS. These two companies have been duly declared to tax authorities and shown in the Income Tax returns of all members. We have, however, no shareholding or hold any other position in any other companies mentioned by you.”
— Ritu Sarin/New Delhi
Responding to the report ‘Diamond dealers are tax haven’s best friends’, published in The Indian Express dated April 6, 2016, Harshad Mehta of the Rosy Blue conglomerate has written:
“I have been a non-resident (under applicable provisions of FEMA and Indian IT Act) at the time when I, either incorporated, acquired or participated in these companies. These companies were operating companies and the structures are all according to globally accepted and followed corporate holding structures. The locations are typically chosen for ease of incorporation, established legal systems and succession clarity.
Being a non-resident based in the UAE, tax avoidance was not a requirement for me nor was it my intention to establish companies in “tax haven” jurisdictions such as the BVI for tax avoidance, as erroneously implied.
I have already passed on the operations baton to my son Rihen. In the mid-2000s, when Rihen became a non-resident Indian, shareholding of certain companies were transferred to Rihen and he was appointed a director in my stead. This was all a part of prudent succession planning and nothing out of place.
Rosy Blue FZE was an operating company based out of Dubai had participated in a company carrying out a legitimate business activity. I understand that it is for this reason that certain offshore entities were tagged to “client — rosy blue FZE”. FYI: I also clarify that since 2014, I am no longer part of any of the Rosy Blue Companies.
Also I must stress that there is no participation or ownership by a resident Indian in any of the referenced offshore entities.
You have also mentioned about certain internal communication concerning my brother Dilip. You are fully aware that Dilip was never investigated in India and there are no cases pending against him in any matter in India.
I am responding to only some of the key observations from the article and inference may not be taken that all other points carried in the article are accepted.”
Tabasum & Abdul Rashid Mir
Offshore entity: Mondale SA
MF records show Abdul Rashid Mir, Cottage Industries Exposition (CIE) founder and CEO, floated Mondale SA on September 4, 2002, in Panama with an authorised capital of $10,000, divided into 100 shares. MF provided three directors and a secretary. The bearer shares were issued ten days later — on September 14 — and Mir’s son Mujeeb subscribed “as shareholder to the entire authorised share capital of the company” on October 8.
On December 2, 2002, Abdul Rashid Mir got a Power of Attorney from Mondale SA to open a bank account with Banque Baring Brothers (Suisse) SA. In account opening documents, Mujeeb Mir, with a Bangkok address, was shown as owner of financial assets of the company while the signature card had the name Abdul Rashid Mir.
On January 31, 2005, Mujeeb was murdered in Mauritius. Five months later, on July 11, his parents, Abdul Rashid Mir and Tabasum Mir, were appointed additional directors in Mondale SA. According to MF documents, on July 5, 2007, Mir met “Mr Woernle of Banque Baring Brothers Sturdza SA, Geneva, Switzerland… to cancel, with immediate effect, the discretionary management power granted to the bank over the company’s account with the Bank”.
In March 2011, Mondale SA replaced Geneva-based law firm Secretan Troyanov with Swiss LLC, Geneva, as its administrator. The last available record of the company in MF documents is dated January 15, 2013, when it paid the annual fee as a private company to the Ministry of Economy and Finance, Panama. Tabasum Mir is a director in 17 Indian companies including CIE which, on its website, claims businesses worth billions in silk carpets alone. The company runs outlets in locations such as Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Mauritius, Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Response: Tabasum Mir said: “I am a resident citizen of India and Abdul Rashid Mir is an NRI. Neither he nor I have ever held any stake in or any control of Mondale SA which was incorporated and controlled by a trust founded by late Mujib Mir who almost his entire life was an NRI. After his unfortunate death in 2005, the trustees dissolved the Trust and distributed the proceeds amongst his family members who have fully disclosed the benefit so received by them to the concerned GOI authorities.”
— Jay Mazoomdaar/New Delhi
Satish K Modi
Offshore entities: Challenge Soccer Ltd, Goldfinch Holding Group Ltd
Location: British Virgin Islands
Satish Modi, 69, is chairman of Modi Global Enterprises and younger brother of KK Modi, the patriarch of the $ 1.2 billion Modi Group. He set up an offshore entity in the British Virgin Islands called Challenge Soccer Ltd in February 2010. Initially, he was a shareholder in the entity along with a UK national, Elizabeth Ferguson, before the shares were transferred to The Challenge Soccer Foundation, a foundation with a Liechtenstein address.
Modi was issued 51 shares on February 25, 2010, but these were transferred to the foundation on November 29, 2010. MF records show Modi’s India address in Maharani Bagh, New Delhi.
He continues to be a director in Challenge Soccer Ltd. Interestingly, Modi had founded a football club in the UK in 2013 known as Modi Town Football Club Limited, with its registered office in Harrow.
Modi set up Challenge Soccer Ltd in the British Virgin Islands in 2010. Modi set up Challenge Soccer Ltd in the British Virgin Islands in 2010.
Modi is also listed as a shareholder in Goldfinch Holding Group Ltd, also registered in the BVI. His address in this company is listed as London. Goldfinch Holding was registered on August 5, 2010, and a share was issued to Satish Modi on September 21, 2010. He is the only shareholder in the company.
RESPONSE: In an email sent to The Indian Express, S P Kutty, Secretary to S K Modi, said: “Please be informed that Mr Modi is an NRI for the last many years and all Indian laws have been complied with. Presently Mr Modi is abroad. We are unable to give any further information in this regard.”
—P Vaidyanathan Iyer/New Delhi
Offshore entities: Eco-Ocean Group Ltd, Best Concept Group Ltd
Records show Mullick is the sole shareholder of Eco-Ocean Group Ltd since the company was set up on January 3, 2014. He is also the sole shareholder of Best Concept Group Ltd, another Seychelles company, since its incorporation on June 24, 2014.
Best Concept Group Ltd (Seychelles), according to records, is the holding company of Alta Vista Fashions Limited, a Hong Kong company, and its principal place of business is Dhaka, Bangladesh. The accounting records for Eco-Ocean Group Ltd (Seychelles) are kept in Hong Kong.
According to his parents in Delhi’s Janakpuri, Mullick is based in Dhaka, where he runs an apparel and fashion business. He owns Alta Vista Ltd (www.avl-bd.com), which was set up in 2012 in Bangladesh. According to its website, Alta Vista also has offices in New York City (AVL Fashions Inc) and in New Delhi’s Okhla (OSR Textiles Resources).
RESPONSE: Sudhir Mullick did not respond to an emailed questionnaire.
—Jay Mazoomdaar/New Delhi
Offshore entity: Meru Group Ltd
Meru was incorporated on March 4, 2003, with 50,000 shares allotted at $1 par value each. Nirmala was director from March 5, 2003 to January 7, 2011. She was also issued one share on March 5, 2003. On December 30, 2010, Nirmala wrote to Meru, seeking to transfer her share of no par value to Abi Murthy and Karun Rajasekharan, both with USA addresses. A Certificate of Incumbency issued on June 15, 2015 described Nirmala as a shareholder and a director in Meru.
On June 12, 2015, Pearlmans Solicitors of London, acting on behalf of Abi Murthy and Karun Rajasekharan, wrote to MF about the sale of a property at 12 Central Park Lodge, 54-58, Bolsover Street, London. “Our attached BVI company search reveals that you are the registered agents of the company. In order for us to complete our compliance procedures, can you please send us a certificate of incumbency detailing the names of the registered directors and shareholders of Meru Group Limited. Please also let have any further information which you consider relevant impeding the sale of the above property by the company,” stated the letter by the solicitor to MF & Co. Abi and Karun are also linked to Meru Associates Ltd which, according to a MF-issued Certificate of Incumbency of November 11, 2003, is shown as Meru Group Ltd’s secretary. Meru Associates Ltd is a management consulting firm in the UK.
RESPONSE: “I have no clue about this. I don’t know who Abi and Karun are. The name and address you have given is correct but I am 80 years old. I retired from service as a teacher from Avinashilingam University in Coimbatore,” said Nirmala Murthy. Avinashilingam is a deemed university in Coimbatore, started in 1957 by the Avinashilingam Educational Trust.
-Arun Janardhanan/ Chennai
Offshore Entity: Triumphum Lux Ltd
MF records show that Kanwar Pal held all 50,000 shares in Triumphum Lux Ltd from May 23, 2013, when the company was incorporated. Sachin Chauhan, a Gurgaon-born citizen of The Netherlands, was appointed the first director. The company was struck off the registry on December 31, 2014. The register of the company was kept in Hong Kong.
Pal’s listed address is at Chogana village in Punjab’s Karnal. When The Indian Express visited the address on April 28, his brother Yash Pal claimed that Kanwar has been working at a shoe shop in The Netherlands for the last 12 years and that his family stays in Chogana.
RESPONSE: “I did not own a single share. I don’t know how my name came up. It is Sachin who owned the company,” said Kanwar Pal over the phone from The Netherlands.
Ashok Bahecharbhai Patel
Offshore entity: Rollicks Holdings Ltd
On July 31, 2001, Ratilal Bahecharbhai Patel and Ashok Bahecharbhai Patel were issued one share each in Rollicks. On May 24, 2004, Neeraj Ratilal Patel was issued one share. Ratilal and Ashok ceased to be shareholders and directors on February 2, 2007 and May 24, 2004, respectively. Neeraj Ratilal Patel was appointed a director on May 24, 2004 and Pramila Ratilal Patel as a director on July 29, 2004.
Both have a Zambia address listed. Ashok Ramniklal Modi was appointed a director on February 1, 2007. Neeraj and Pramila became shareholders on May 24, 2004 and February 7, 2007, respectively.
RESPONSE: At his listed Mumbai address, The Indian Express was told that Ashok Patel was out of the country. A questionnaire was handed over to his wife on April 26. Patel is yet to respond.
– Rohit Alok/Mumbai
Chotumati Chimanbhai Patel
Offshore entity: Dustan Investments Ltd
Chotumati Chimanbhai Patel holds one share in Dustan Investments Ltd, a company incorporated on June 5, 2000.
RESPONSE: Chotumati Patel was not available at the address listed in Vadodara. A woman, at another Vadodara address listed in MF files, said that she did not know Chimanbhai Patel.
Rahul Arunprasad Patel
Offshore entity: Amarange Inc
Patel is one of the three managing directors of Sintex Industries Ltd, an Ahmedabad-based company that has made a name for itself in manufacturing water tanks. He is among the promoters of the company listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange.
MF records show Patel was a director with a BVI entity named Amarange Inc which was registered in 2008. The company was struck off the MF records in 2014. The purpose for which it was set up has been recorded as: “Investments and for holding real estate in Singapore”.
RESPONSE: Contacted by The Indian Express, Rahul A Patel said: “We have a number of companies registered abroad. I am not sure if Amarange Inc is still ours. I do not deal with the financial part.”
In response to the questionnaire sent to Rahul Patel, the managing director of Sintex Industries, Amit D Patel said over the phone: “We have about 21 plants outside India. We acquired this (Amarange Inc) in 2007. While we acquire international operations, we need to create holding companies. When you acquire a company, you need to hold it outside India and then repatriate the dividends to India. So it is done with RBI permission and guidelines. We also borrow money there and we also send money outside India to fund our acquisition and we also get dividends from those companies into India. It (Amarange Inc) is part of our balance sheets and we also disclose (information about) it in our balance sheets since 2007. We keep on creating and closing these companies as and when the acquisition opportunities arise.”
— Avinash Nair/Ahmedabad
Offshore entity: Elgenburg Ltd
Rajendra Patil is the son-in-law of veteran Congressman and Karnataka Horticulture Minister Shamanur Shivashankarappa, a businessman and educationist who owns medical and engineering colleges in Davangere.
Patil runs a sugar export company and is also involved with energy, aviation, textile, education and Internet firms run by the Shivashankarappa family. According to MF records, Patil and two associates, Sanjay Nadgouda and Shashank Angadi, set up an offshore firm called Elgenburg Ltd in the British Virgin Islands in 2007 with an initial shareholding of 50,000 shares with Patil holding 22,500 of them.
The records show a commercial complex owned by the Shivashankarappa family in Bengaluru as Patil’s address in India.
Response: Patil said: “The company was created in 2007 as a buyer for issuing letters of credit in Europe. We were trading in agricultural commodities. We did one deal but suffered losses of Rs 1 crore so we shut it down the same year.”
— Johnson T A/Bengaluru
Offshore entity: Panamanian Foundation Colbury
Sanjay Pokhriyal, a printing and production specialist, appears in the MF papers as the individual who gave the initial endowment for the Panamanian foundation called Colbury. Records show that the foundation was set up in 2004, and was active until 2012. The principal beneficiaries of the foundation were Israeli nationals. Several documents show the movement of huge loans and expense money for maintaining assets and properties in places like New York. Pokhriyal, who is now 61, leads a retired life in Dehradun. His son is an engineer in Bengaluru.
RESPONSE: Pokhriyal told The Indian Express that he worked with the Centurion Trust in Jersey until 2005, and the Colbury Foundation was one of the companies run by it. “Centurion Funds provided financial services for various clients based in UK, US, India and others. I did some day-to-day filing work for some companies run by Centurion but I did not work for Colbury,” he said. He said that the $10,000 endowment was not his own money, and that his name was probably used to start the Colbury Foundation.
— Devyani Onial/Dehradun
Offshore entity: Stallast Ltd
Brother of billionaire Dr Cyrus Poonawalla, Zavaray heads the managing committee of the Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) and is on the board of four companies that deal with real estate, construction, hospitality and stud farms.
MF records list Zavaray, wife Behroze and daughters Simone and Delna, as directors of Stallast Ltd set up in 2013 in the British Virgin Islands. Stallast was struck off the records in 2014.
Response: Zavaray said: “Yes, we are directors in the company. As we remitted money under the Liberalised Remittance Scheme through the automatic route, no special permission from RBI was necessary. We have disclosed all details to Indian tax authorities. As this was part of an official transaction, it was not necessary for any declaration under the amnesty scheme.”
— Partha Biswas/Pune
Moturi Srinivas Prasad
Offshore entities: Four
MF records list Prasad, a prominent Hyderabad businessman, as a director in at least four offshore companies registered in the BVI in 2011. Two other local businesmen, Volam Bhaskar Rao and Bhavanasi Jaya Kumar, are listed as directors/shareholders in these firms: Yes De Ventures SA, Sika Securities Ltd, Bhasu Capitals Ltd and Bee Pee Investments Corp.
Prasad is executive chairman and managing director of Nandan Cleantec and a co-owner of Sika Securities Ltd. He is credited with setting up one of Asia’s largest biofuel processing facilities, and is associated with over a dozen other companies. He was arrested on April 2, 2012 for alleged irregularities in the export of bio-diesel, and is on bail.
RESPONSE: Prasad said: “These were ‘1-dollar’ companies that were started in the hope we may do some business but we did not do much. They were opened some time in 2005-06, I think. All companies are inactive now. There is no investment in them. We did not operate these companies so there was no question of declaring anything. As for the procedures and regulations, it was Volam Bhaskar Rao who was handling all that.”
— Sreenivas Janyala/Hyderabad
Bhandari Ashok Ramdayalchand
Offshore entity: Ferryden International Limited
Mossack FonseCa records show Bhandari Ashok Ramdayalchand is the sole director and shareholder of a BVI company called Ferryden International Limited, which is registered with MF’s Singapore branch. The company was registered in January 2005, with Bhandari holding all its 50,000 shares.
Bhandari operates mainly out of a single-storey bungalow called “Bhandaris” in a gated community known as Abhiship Bungalows in a posh stretch of the road between Ahmedabad’s Thaltej and Shilaj localities. He provides financial services including expertise on accountancy, auditing services and investment banking to a host of companies, including some listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange.
RESPONSE: He declined to meet or speak on the phone to The Indian Express for a response. “I have informed him about your queries. He is not interested in talking about his businesses to the media. We live in this part of the town because we love a bit of privacy,” said a woman who said she was “Mrs Bhandari” but declined to give her name. The address The Indian Express tried to reach him on is the same as the one in the MF records.
— Avinash Nair/Ahmedabad
Offshore entities: Nandan Technologies, associated firms; Others
Rao wass MD of Nandan Technologies and six associated companies. He was also co-owner of Sika Securities Ltd, a promoter of Nandan Cleantec Limited (alternate name Nandan Biomatrix Limited), and served as MD of Nandan Cleantec Limited from April 2008. He now leads a semi-retired life, and spends a lot of time in the UK.
RESPONSE: He asked his son, Volam Sandeep, to answer on his behalf. His son said Moturi Srinivas Prasad had taken over the companies and Bhaskar Rao has since retired. “The offshore companies were set up in anticipation of doing business four years ago. But they actually became cost centres because we had to spend a lot on getting clearances and maintaining those companies…” He said the companies “are not totally closed but they are also not active”.
On declaring these offshore entities to the authorities, he said, “We followed the due procedures… we followed the rules and regulations.”
— Sreenivas Janyala/Hyderabad
Offshore entity: Lymnside Ltd
British national Nina Rao, an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) and resident of Delhi’s Defence Colony, and British citizen Pardeep Singh Saroya, resident of Middlesex, acquired Lymnside Ltd and became shareholders and directors on February 6, 2012. The company was struck off on October 31, 2013.
Listed as an NGO consultant on her OIC registration, Rao has been residing in India since 2001. Saroya is a developer based in Southall, UK. The activity of Lymnside was listed as “Entrepreneurial Business Enterprises”.
RESPONSE: “The company was originally set up to explore business opportunities in India and abroad. It was inactive since its inception, never having conducted any business anywhere in the world at any time. It was struck off after the initial set-up fees for registration were not renewed. It never had any bank accounts or assets anywhere in the world,” stated Nina Rao, in an email. She added that she did not inform regulatory authorities in India about the company “as there were no earnings or any business activity or investments of the company”.
–Jay Mazoomdaar/New Delhi
Offshore entity: SVS Investment Inc
Commerce graduate Bhaskaran Raveendran, 51, who belongs to Thiruvananthapuram, went to Russia in 1991, where he worked for 20 years as a consultant for a commodity firm, dealing mainly with coffee. He then spent three years in Vietnam as a consultant for a cashew business, before returning to Thiruvananthapuram in 2013.
Mossack Fonseca records show that Bhaskaran has been associated with SVS Investment Inc as a power of attorney holder and to act as a manager and facilitator. He thus did not incorporate the offshore company, and was not a director. The company was registered in August 2006, and was “inactivated” in January 2014. The directors of the company are Russian nationals. The MF papers contain details of resolutions passed at two meetings — on November 10 and November 17, 2008 — where a power of attorney in his name was signed.
Incidentally, one of the meetings of the directors was held at his residence in Kerala.
RESPONSE: Asked about the offshore company SVS Investment Inc, Bhaskaran said: “I have no such company. I have not invested in a firm in Russia. I am wondering how my name has figured in this list. I am a taxpayer and haven’t got any alert from the Income-Tax Department regarding any offshore investment. While working in Russia, I had invested in stocks, which was withdrawn when I left that country.”
— SHAJU PHILIP/ THIRUVANANTHAPURAM
Anil Vasudeva Salgaocar
No. of offshore entities: 11
A Goa-based mining baron and former MLA, Anil Vasudeva Salgaocar had set up 11 offshore companies with the help of MF, mostly in the BVI, with a majority of them being incorporated between 2004-2005 with Vasco Da Gama in south Goa as the India address. Salgaocar, 75, died in Singapore in January following illness.
These offshore entities include Ling Tao Trading Ltd, Horizon Villa Investments Ltd, GBA Shipping Ltd, Jamana Finance Limited, GBA Minerals Limited, Nickon Enterprises Ltd, General Harvest International Ltd and Crown Bright Trading Ltd, among others, with records showing that a majority were set up between 2004-2005. Records show that many of the 11 companies were struck off MF’s lists in 2007 and 2008.
Anil Salgaocar’s son Arjun Anil is also listed as a director in some companies. In 2007, Anil Salgaocar did not disclose these offshore companies to the Election Commission when he contested and won the assembly polls from Sanvordem.
Response: A member of Salgaocar’s family, who did not wish to be identified, said: “I am in no position to comment on this since we are not aware of these business interests. Nothing is known to us about these companies.”
— Ritu Sarin/New Delhi
Offshore entities: Crestbright Ltd, Pyebush Group Ltd, Edenval Ltd
HArish-Salve-759One 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.
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.
MF records show that Salve is listed as a director in Crestbright Ltd, which was registered in 2012 with Salendra Swarup as another director. The other two entities were registered in 2008 with Salve’s wife Meenakshi Harish Salve and daughter Sakshi Harish Salve as directors. MF records show that Edenval Ltd is listed as a shareholder in the incorporation documents of Pyebush Group Ltd.
Response: Salve said: “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.
“Edenoval was set up with a friend, and Pyebush was set up by me to hold shares in Edenoval. My friend had suggested some investments outside India and outside UK. Nothing materialsed; no income — no assets. All the three companies are virtually defunct.
“All my offshore assets upto 2014 were created out of funds remitted from my Indian bank to my UK bank account. After 2014, I have income in the UK too — and made some investments out of that. Since bank accounts are routinely called for by tax authorities, all Indian and UK bank details are filed. Nothing is withheld.
“However, the BVI companies have no value in any event — do not represent an asset or investment abroad. Besides, all LRS remittances are disclosed by the remitting bank to the RBI.
“As far as the letter of refence is concerned, Mrs Mahajan and Mr Ramesh Mahajan are Canadian citizens. He came back on a Transfer of Residence, and wanted a company to manage his offshore moneys. It was for that reason that I wrote the letter of reference to him to set up a company.”
— Ritu Sarin/New Delhi
Satish Govind Samtani, Vishlav Bahadur and Harish Mohnani
Offshore entities: Design & Quality Ltd and Trileon Limited
MF records list Satish, Vishlav and Harish as directors in two offshore companies in the BVI, Design & Quality Ltd, incorporated on December 4, 2008, and Trileon Limited, in November 2007.
Records show that Design & Quality Limited was registered in December 2008 and the process for its dissolution began in July 2015. They show, however, that it would be struck off MF registers only on April 30, 2016. Trileon Limited, with Bahadur and Samtani as directors, was struck off the records in 2012.
Bahadur, from Lucknow, now lives in Bengaluru and runs VNS Corporation which exports garments and has an Indian brand called Republic of Spiel. Samtani, also a resident of Bengaluru, lists an association with Trileon Ltd, China, since June 2007 in a social media profile. Mohnani is currently the managing director of the Pro Apparel Division of BSE-listed garment exporter and sportswear distributor Cravatex Ltd.
RESPONSE: Vishlav Bahadur said: “The two foreign firms were established to facilitate letters of credit for export of clothing and other material from China to apparel factories in Europe. These firms were based in China, operated for around three years and have been shut down. We were sourcing material, and manufacturing and exporting from China and we needed letters of credit for payments to Chinese suppliers. In the end, it became too much of a hassle and a liability and we shut it down. All three of us have gone our separate ways. When the companies were in operation until three years ago, all norms were followed.”
— Johnson T A/Bengaluru
Offshore entity: Lotus Horizon SA
Prabhash Sankhla is a retired Madhya Pradesh government employee who lives alone in Indore after his wife passed away three years ago. MF records list his name, along with address, as a director in Lotus Horizon SA, incorporated in July 2012 in Panama.
The other two directors in the company are his daughter Sheetal Singh and son-in-law Rajeev Singh, both Canadian nationals based in Toronto. Rajeev Singh, an engineering graduate from Pennsylvania University, is also listed as president of the company, which was registered with 10,000 shares. Invoices raised by MF accountants for 2015 indicate that the company is active.
RESPONSE: Sankhla said: “My son-in-law is a very competent businessman and keeps travelling around the world. He manages an aviation- related business in the US and Canada. I am only an honorary director in this company. I have not paid a single paisa and I am not involved in their business. I will reply accordingly if I get a notice. Normally, you make your family as directors. But if required, I can request my daughter and son-in-law to withdraw my name.”
— Milind Ghatwai/Indore
M/s Trimblesh ‘N’ Savas
Overseas entity: The Mine Tyre & Truck Services Group Pvt Ltd
Mossack Fonseca documents show that M/s Trimblesh ‘N’ Savas — it is a company that trades in specialised tyres and is owned by Delhi businessman Viney Krishan Chaudhri — owned all 100 shares in The Mine Tyre & Truck Service Group Pvt Ltd (BVI) ever since it was incorporated in the British Virgin Islands on August 20, 2009.
A New Delhi address has been listed for M/s Trimblesh ‘N’ Savas in the MF papers
Chaudhri also owns Radials International, and was a director of M/s Tip Top General Agencies Pvt Ltd till September 2011. The Mine Tyre & Truck Service Group Pvt Ltd (BVI), according to MF, was struck off on April 30, 2012.
Chaudhri’s companies, according to the website of Radials International, deal in earthmover tyres and “have successfully introduced the Michelin Radial Technology to every major mining company in India”.
RESPONSE: In an email, Chaudhri said: “In 2009, we set out to examine the possibility of obtaining a distressed EM tyre retreading asset in Australia, being offered by Rio Tinto. To pursue this proposal, a couple of trips were made to Australia and in order to accomplish this transaction, we did open a BVI company. However, as it was a competitive bid, we lost out to a German company that finally took over the asset. We could not secure the deal. Consequently, as there was no business ever transacted, no investments made and as we could not attain anything overseas that we did set out to do, the company was automatically struck off the BVI register.”
— Jay Mazoomdaar/New Delhi
Offshore entity: Jeff Morgan Capital Ltd
An investment management and IT consultant based in Panchkula, Gautam Seengal introduced himself to MF staff as head of a “leading conglomerate with interests in infrastructure, information technology, hospitality and financial services”. Records show he claimed that he was linked to a $400 million private equity fund. Besides registering two offshore entities in his name, he solicited advice for opening others for his clients.
Seengal has closed down his Manimajra office listed in records, with a new office under construction in Mohali. Along with his father, Suresh Seengal, he first opened a BVI company called Imedia Ventures Ltd in June 2006 — the name was changed to Jeff Morgan Capital Ltd in November 2009.
Records contain scores of mails exchanged between him and MF staff on formation of companies, changing their names and offshore facilitation for his clients and investors.
RESPONSE: “I do not have any relation with these companies and, in fact, they belong to my father. After a family division, I am no longer part of these companies. If I remember correctly, these companies used to exist way back in 2006-07 but I think all of them might have been closed by now. I run offices in Gurgaon, Delhi and Mohali but do not play any role in any venture my father may be running.”
— Varinder Bhatia/Chandigarh
Ankita Sehgal & Nimitt Rai Tiwari
Overseas entity: Suncell Holding SA
Location: British Virgin Islands
Nimitt Rai Tiwari and Ankita Sehgal, husband and wife, together owned Suncell Holding SA incorporated in the British Virgin Islands on September 16, 2011. From the day the company was formed, show Mossack Fonseca documents, they held 25,000 shares each in Suncell Holding — which issued a power of attorney to Nimitt on September 29, 2011. The two married in November 2011.
The couple are directors in Damodar Sunidhi Ventures Pvt Ltd, a Delhi company incorporated in 2013. They were also directors in another Delhi company — Xclucity Business Solutions Pvt Ltd set up in 2010 — which is now defunct. Ankita Sehgal owns and runs M/s Trade Intex, a “wholesaler/distributor/supplier of iron ore” in Delhi.
In an internal communication in November 2013, the company’s administrator Maurice Taylor, a Geneva-based firm, described the activities of Suncell Holding and where it was taking place to its registered agent Mossack Fonseca. “The company trades iron ore and the activity takes place in China mainly,” the email said.
In June 2014, Suncell Holding SA proposed to change its name to Sinostar Minerals Ltd, but the name was not available at the registry. The move was eventually dropped in August 2014. The company was inactivated on April 30, 2015.
RESPONSE: Ankita Sehgal did not respond to multiple emails.
— Jay Mazoomdaar/New Delhi
Raju Radhakrishna Shete
Offshore entity: Consolidated (Holdings) Ltd
Shete holds 10 shares in Consolidated. Described as an “entrepreneur”, Shete was appointed as a director on September 3, 1999. The authorised capital of Consolidated is $10,000 (1,000 shares of $10 par value each). As per a Certificate of Incumbency issued on June 7, 2011, the shareholders of the company are Shete with 10 shares and CM Skye Trustees Ltd, the trustees of Consolidated, with 990 shares.
Lalit Kumar Khanna is one of the three directors, the other two being Park Ltd and Stone Ltd.
RESPONSE: “Consolidated Holdings Limited was established when I was not a resident of India. During that period, I was engaged in operating a food services business internationally. I held shares in this company and was also a director on the board of the company, and both these facts have been disclosed to the regulatory authorities concerned, and are a part of my relevant income-tax filings in India. This company is no longer in existence,” said Shete.
Offshore entity: Das Properties Ltd
MF records show that Santokh Singh, a resident of Amritsar, has been holding all 100 shares of Das Properties Ltd since August 31, 2012. The company was set up on August 27, 2002.
Records show that Kuldeep Pottwail Singh (133 Upton Lane, Forest Gate, London) has been holding the Power of Attorney (PoA) to manage the company’s affairs since 2009. Das Properties Ltd (BVI) engaged in purchase and sale of properties in the UK. In one instance, the company sold its property on Commercial Road in London to Magri Builders Ltd for GBP 1.85 million in 2006. The next year, it bought a London property at 37 Upton Lane, Forest Gate. In 2009, Das sold a property at 9, Douglas Close, Ilford, Essex IG6 2DB to Kuldeep Singh (21, Lord Avenue, Clayhall, Essex IG5 0HP) for GBP 6,94,483. Records show only five per cent of the money was paid while the rest was adjusted as a loan.
Santokh Singh lives with his wife on the first floor of his Amritsar house which, he claimed, was constructed before his birth in 1938. He added that he used to work for the Punjab government as an auditor with several local bodies. His five children — Gurdev Singh, Surinder Singh, Manjit Kaur, Gurmeet Kaur and Satnam Kaur — are all settled in the UK, he said.
RESPONSE: “I have no company called Das Properties. I have nothing to hide, anybody can investigate. I have made no investment in London. I had gone to England last year to meet my children. I often go there to meet them. But we don’t have any property there. My elder son has a government job in Britain and my younger son works as a postman,” said Santokh Singh.
–Kamaldeep Singh Brar/Amritsar
Uday Pratap Singh
Overseas entity: Steel Engineering Limited
Uday Pratap Singh was a shareholder of Steel Engineering Limited, a company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands on July 19, 2007. One Umesh Somani held all 1,000 shares of the company since its incorporation. The shares were transferred to Uday Pratap Singh in 2011. Steel Engineering Limited (BVI) was struck off on April 30, 2012, according to the MF papers.
RESPONSE: Uday Pratap Singh said, “I have no idea about the company. It is the first time I am hearing the name. I am in India. I have not purchased any share.”
— ARSHAD ALI/KOLKATA
Indira Sivasailam and Mallika Srinivasan
Offshore entities: Stanbridge Company Ltd
Indira Sivasailam, who died in December 2008, at the age of 73, was the wife of Anantharamakrishnan Sivasailam, chairman of Amalgamations Group. She was survived by her husband and two daughters — Mallika Srinivasan, chairman and CEO of Tractors and Farm Equipment Limited (TAFE), the third largest tractor manufacturer in the world, and the late Jayshree Venkatraman, director of TAFE (Power Source Division). Mallika is the wife of Venu Srinivasan, chairman of TVS Motors.
MF records list Indira as a shareholder in Stanbridge Company Ltd, which was incorporated in 1999 in the BVI. Records show that shares of the older couple were transferred to their daughters in 2011 and eventually, in October, 2011 Malika Srinivasan relinquished her shares “for personal reasons” to one Ved Prakash Ahuja. They also show that shares of another BVI entity, Auto Engineering Development and Research Limited, were transferred to Stanbridge. MF records show the company was struck off the records in September 2015.
Response: Mallika Srinivasan stated: “I wish to clarify that I did not set up any offshore company and have no connection with Stanbridge Company Limited. It belongs to Mr V P Ahuja, an NRI…” In a separate response, V P Ahuja stated: “I confirm that Stanbridge Company Limited was set up for my sole benefit by me and that the shares were held by me in entirety.”
— Arun Janardhanan/Chennai
Jehangir S Sorabjee
Offshore entity: Moonglow Investments Global Ltd
Jehangir Soli Sorabjee, son of former attorney general Soli Sorabjee and a honorary consultant physician at Bombay Hospital, is the sole shareholder in Moonglow Investments Global Ltd, an offshore entity incorporated in the British Virgin Islands on November 24, 2010. On the same day, MF records show, he consented to act as a director of the company.
Sorabjee completed his MBBS from the Grant Medical College in the UK and his Master’s in Internal Medicine. Subsequently he worked in the UK for five years at different hospitals and obtained a postgraduate medical diploma and diploma in tropical medicine and hygiene from London.
He is currently professor of medicine and head of the department of medicine at the Bombay Hospital Institute of Medical Sciences. He is also a postgraduate teacher at the Maharashtra University of Health Sciences and has authored a number of academic publications and text book chapters.
Sorabjee is also a celebrated photographer and images from his book of aerial pictures of Mumbai — Above Bombay — have been included as part of exhibitions at the Venice Biennale in 2006, The Tate Modern in 2007 and the Canary Islands Biennale in 2009.
Response: Sorabjee said that he has complied with all disclosure norms. “The facts are correct. The company has received funds for investment sent abroad from India through the liberalised RBI scheme and is declared in my Income Tax returns to the Income tax authorities,” said Sorabjee.
Offshore entity: Redeem Worldwide Investments Pvt Ltd
MF records list Aditya Sudan as the sole shareholder of Redeem Worldwide Investments Pvt Ltd since September 9, 2009, when the company was set up. Redeem was rendered inactive on April 30, 2011. Sudan and TPS Limited (Samoa) were the first directors. Raghu Veer Singh, an Indian passport holder with an Abu Dhabi address, became a director on February 4, 2010. Singh’s consent letter was marked to Redeem at a Singapore address.
Sudan’s address is listed at a government accommodation in Sector 14, Sonipat, Haryana. When The Indian Express visited the address on April 28, residents and neighbours said that Sudan’s father — an ex-government employee — had moved out three years ago after retirement.
When contacted, Sudan’s father, who did not wish to named, said he had cut all ties with his son 10 years ago and was not aware of the offshore firm. Sudan’s uncle Raman Sharma, who is a partner at a law firm in Noida, said his nephew works in the hospitality industry and is based abroad but declined to name the country.
RESPONSE: “To the best of my knowledge, he had a nominal shareholding (in Redeem), which he transferred. I am not sure of his current status. He was in the process of exploring foreign nationality. He has been a Non-Resident Indian since 2009 and so I don’t think he was required to inform RBI and income-tax authorities about this,” said Raman Sharma.
Chinnamaruthu Shanmuga Sundarapandian
Overseas entities: Panasia Star Ltd, Wir Fashion Holding Pvt Ltd
Chinnamaruthu Shanmuga Sundarapandian, a director in two offshore companies in the BVI called Panasia Star Ltd and Wir Fashion Holding Private Ltd, lives in Choolaimedu, a middle-class neighbourhood in Chennai. His name was added as shareholder in the two companies in March 2015, the MF papers show.
Sundarapandian claimed ignorance of the two companies. “I do not have any idea about these companies. It was my younger brother Deenathayala Pandian who added me as he didn’t want to have an outside partner. I was told that it is a Hong Kong-based company. He asked my permission, I agreed, I had given my passport number too for the purpose,” he said.
MF records, however, show that both brothers signed the consent forms. “If at all there are two companies, they are not illegal, we are not billionaires or money swindlers. We are traditionally a family that focuses on social service and cultural activities and I myself and my brother are writers too,” Sundarapandian said.
Sundarapandian initially said he is an exporter of textile products, but later said he works for a Singapore-based company that is a supplier of electronic items. He often travels to Singapore, Sundarapandian said.
Sundarapandian said his brother Deenathayala Pandian, who is three years younger to him, had been a journalist and writer for leading Tamil publications. “Later we started a magazine called Kazhugu. We had to close it due to threats from politicians as it had been daringly writing against powerful corrupt politicians. Once they even burnt our printing press,” he said.
Asked how or why a journalist might open offshore companies, he said the question should be put to his brother’s boss. But he refused to say who the “boss” was. “I don’t know anything, he (the brother) added me and I agreed,” he repeated.
Deenathayala Pandian, a well known real estate businessman in Chennai, runs Kaviyan Foundation, an organisation “determined in enhancing the quality of life among the rural under-privileged section of our society”. According to Sundarapandian, Deenathayala Pandian runs his operations from Madurai and Chennai. “He often travels outside India too. Right now he is abroad,” he said.
Deenathayala Pandian could not be reached. Sundarapandian said he would ask his younger brother to call back this reporter, but did not subsequently respond to calls.
— ARUN JANARDHANAN/CHENNAI
Mohan Thadani & Arjun Thadani
Offshore entity: Mitarj International Corp
On January 12, 2004, Mohan Thadani and Arjun Thadani were issued 2,500 shares each. The capital of the company is $5,000 comprising 5,000 shares of $1 each. Mohan and Arjun were appointed as directors on December 31, 2003. Karamjit Singh Bahal was issued the power of attorney (PoA) to manage the company without any limitation. Subsequently, Arjun changed his address from Mumbai to Nigeria. USA Corporate Services Inc, Albany, New York, is the intermediary that facilitated the setting up of the offshore entity by the Thadanis. The company’s activity was described as “to open accounts to hold the funds of shareholders”.
Due to lack of any activity, the company proposed to wind up and dissolve. The liquidator was Fides Liquidator Inc, provided by MF and located at Mossfon Building in Panama. The liquidation was authorised by the unanimous vote of all shareholders on September 12, 2012. They also provided a letter on September 12, 2012, indemnifying MF and Fides Liquidator against all lawsuits, claims, etc. On October 14, 2012, the Thadanis gave a letter certifying that all bank accounts opened under the name of the company had been closed. They also attached relevant letters from banks. All transactions performed and agreements executed by the company have been concluded. They certified that the company has no further commercial activities and has disposed of all assets and liabilities. They added that the company will continue to discharge or pay or provide for the payment of all claims, debts, liabilities and obligations in full. Mitarj International Corporation was finally dissolved on December 10, 2012.
RESPONSE: “I became a non-resident in 1981 and still am. Mitarj International Corporation, Seychelles, was wound up many years ago. I have complied with all laws of India,” said Mohan Thadani.
Dilip J Thakkar, Dinesh Parameswaran Nair
Offshore entity: Geldin Trading Co.
Dinesh Parameswaran Nair belongs to Ranni village in Kerala’s Pathanamthitta district. The son of a small-time copra (desiccated coconut) trader left home after graduation and worked for several years in Mumbai before moving to Hong Kong in 2008.
Documents in the MF files show Dinesh Parameswaran Nair as a director of a company called Geldin Trading Co. which was incorporated in the BVI on August 17, 2007. The Certificate of Incumbency shows that he has 25,000 shares in the company along with a Chinese national.
Dinesh’s wife Jayasree lives in a small house with two children, both under 10 years of age. She declined to say anything. A local source said Dinesh frequently visits his family in Ranni, and until recently, most people thought he worked somewhere within the country. “People of the village do not know what business he is doing in Hong Kong. Now he is constructing a large house at Ranni,” the source said.
Dinesh’s relative, N G Unnikrishnan, who is overseeing the construction of the new house, refused to give Dinesh’s contact numbers. “I don’t know anything about his business activity. Without his permission, I cannot hand over his phone number,” Unnikrishnan said.
— SHAJU PHILIP/PATHANAMTHITTA
Dilip J Thakkar
Overseas entity: Kansu Corporation
Chartered Accountant Dilip Jayantilal Thakkar, 79, is a senior partner of Jayantilal Thakkar & Co. and Jayantilal Thakkar Associates in Mumbai. He has 40 years’ experience in the field, and is on the board of at least 14 companies including Essar Oil and Essar Ports, according to Bloomberg.
According to the documents accessed by The Indian Express, Thakkar was a director of Kansu Corporation, a company registered in the Bahamas. Kansu had first issued 5,000 bearer shares on December 7, 1992, but was struck off on January 1, 2012, Mossack Fonseca documents reveal. These shares were transferred on April 3, 2001, to Falcon Secretaries Ltd, and further transferred to Dorchester International Inc on February 1, 2005.
Thakkar’s wife Indira Dilip Thakkar was a director of the firm between 2000 and 2009. She was on record by declaration of trust as being the beneficial owner of the company. Dorchester International Limited acted as a nominee shareholder for Indira since February 11, 2005, the MF documents state.
RESPONSE: In an email statement, Dilip Thakkar told The Indian Express that although he was a non-executive director of Kansu Corporation, he did not control or manage the company. “My wife Mrs Indira Dilip Thakkar was never a director of Kansu Corporation. That Company was sponsored by my wife’s parents family who are Non Residents for more than five decades. My wife, Indira was also a Non Resident before our marriage. The bearer shares referred to by you belonged to the said Non Resident Family. The declaration of trust they may have filed referred to my wife as ultimate beneficial owner and not beneficial owner of the company. Their idea was that if anything happens to the family, in that event my wife becomes the Ultimate Beneficiary. Since that event never happened, and the Company is closed, my wife never got beneficial interest in that company. She never invested any of her funds in that company,” he said.
Thakkar also said that the Income-Tax Department had looked into Kansu Corporation a few years back. “On getting the correct facts, they (I-T department) seem to have accepted the same. Since my wife was not the beneficial owner, the question of RBI permission and declaring the Company’s income to Income Tax authority does not arise,” he said.
— KHUSHBOO NARAYAN/MUMBAI
Gautam and Karan Thapar
Offshore entity: Charlwood Foundation, Nikom International Foundation
Gautam and Karan Thapar, sons of Brij Mohan Thapar, took control of Crompton Greaves Limited after the division of the Thapar Group in 1999. Karan ran Crompton Greaves from 2000 as a director while Gautam worked with uncle Lalit Mohan Thapar of Ballarpur Industries Limited (BILT).
In 2005, Lalit Mohan handed control of BILT to Gautam. The same year, MF records show, Gautam and Karan set up a private foundation each in Panama. Lalit Mohan died in January 2007, leaving his shares and voting rights to Gautam. Karan quit Crompton Greaves in May 2007 and in November that year, Gautam launched Avantha Group which now controls both companies. Karan owns EICL Limited, along with Greaves Cotton Ltd and Premium Transmission Ltd.
MF documents show Gautam set up Charlwood Foundation in July 2005 with an initial endowment of US $10,000. His wife Stephanie (from Germany) was the principal beneficiary. As advisor, Gautam retained the right of nominating any person “from time to time” as principal beneficiary.
Records show Karan set up Nikom International Foundation in October 2005, appointing himself advisor with similar powers. He named “Miss Maria del Socorro Gonzalez” as principal beneficiary.
MF records show that Umesh Sahai of Minerva Group, which facilitated the incorporation through Jupiter Trust SA, advised against overcharging the clients when MF proposed to bill US $400 per foundation. “Could you make it 500 for both? They are brothers and know that we are duplicating matters,” he wrote in an email.
In 2007, Sahai wanted to know if Nikom International Foundation “qualifies as a Grantor Trust under US tax laws”. MF replied it was “not authorised to give US tax advice”.
In July 2013, Minerva initiated the process of dissolution with MF but Karan changed his mind. He signed a resolution for dissolution in October 2013, but in January 2014 decided to “retain the Foundation”. Ten months later, it was back on dissolution mode and was taken off the books on February 3, 2015. Gautam’s Charlwood Foundation filed its returns as recently as 2015.
RESPONSE: A spokesperson for Gautam Thapar stated: “Mr Thapar did not set up the foundation. He is not a beneficiary/stakeholder of any offshore foundation. However, his wife Mrs Stephanie Jacqueline Thapar, who is a German citizen and a resident of the UK, is a beneficiary of Charlwood Foundation.” Karan Thapar’s EICL Ltd office acknowledged the receipt of emails sent by The Indian Express and promised to “revert” but did not.
— Jay Mazoomdaar/New Delhi
Madhulika & Rohit Tiwari
Offshore entity: Morris St. Advisors Ltd
MF records show that Rohit Tiwari, a resident of New Jersey, USA, held all 100 shares in Morris St. Advisors Limited (BVI) since its incorporation on May 5, 2009. He was also the director of the company till October 27, 2011 when he resigned and Madhulika Tiwari, a resident of Delhi’s Defence Colony, became director. On the same day, all 100 shares of Morris St. Advisors Limited (BVI) were transferred to Madhulika Tiwari. The company was struck off on October 31, 2014.
RESPONSE: “I am an American citizen and opened the company while I was in the USA. Madhulika Tiwari is my mother. She is an Indian citizen. We never used the company. There was no transaction or even a bank account. All necessary disclosures were made to the relevant authorities,” said Rohit Tiwari, who is now based in Delhi.
— Jay Mazoomdaar/New Delhi
Ajit Gordhandas Uttamchandani & Sushmita Ajit Uttamchandani
Offshore entity: Supernova Associates Inc
Ajit and Sushmita Uttamchandani were issued three shares each of Supernova on April 19, 2001. The company had earlier issued bearer shares on June 2, 1998. But a board meeting on April 19, 2001 annulled the bearer shares and issued six shares to both. The existing M&AA (Memorandum and Articles of Association) were revoked and new one adopted. Keynes Ltd and Walden Ltd, directors in the company, were represented by their executives. Minutes of the meeting of directors on June 2, 1998 shows that two bearer shares were issued and a Power of Attorney granted to Ajit and Sushmita. Even then, Keynes Ltd and Walden Ltd were directors and represented by their executives. The change from bearer shares to shares in the name of the owners was a result of new legal curbs in the Bahamas.
On July 24, 2012, Supernova entered into a facility agreement with Bank Leumi, UK, to borrow GBP 220,000. The board of directors provided unanimous written consent on July 27, 2012 for the agreement. The agreement was renewed on July 15, 2013 to make available an overdraft facility of GBP 180,000 to assist with the extension of the leasehold of Flat 6, Wyndham House, Bryanston Square, London. The bank sought 100 per cent asset cover and charged GBP 900 as arrangement fee. The renewed agreement was signed on July 26, 2013.
Ajit and Sushmita no longer reside at the Mumbai address provided to MF, are based in the USA and have let out their first-floor home.
RESPONSE: Gobind Tolani, a relative who handles their affairs in Mumbai, declined to provide an email address and said he would pass on the questions. They did not revert with a comment.
Offshore entity: Park Presidio Ltd
MF records show that Marisha and Rajeev Vaid (Suite E-2, Union Court Building, Elizabeth Avenue and Shirley Street, Nassau, Bahamas) have been holding 100 ordinary shares each since November 29, 2010. RFG Nominees Ltd (Bahamas) held these shares from November 10-29, 2010.
Park Presidio Ltd (BVI) was set up on August 17, 2010 and holds 400 ordinary shares in Pythhos Technology Holding (BVI) Inc since its incorporation on November 29, 2010. The other shareholders of Pythhos are BVI companies Vivanta Holding Inc (100 shares) and Perfect Ten Group Ltd (100 shares), US resident MaryLouise K Dowd (100 shares) and Singapore’s Thakral Pte Ltd (1,220 shares since November 30, 2012).
Marisha Vaid’s listed address is in Sushant Lok, Gurgaon. Rajeev Vaid works as the COO of US-based Boston Analytics in Gurgaon, an employee of the company confirmed.
RESPONSE: When contacted at her Sushant Lok residence, Marisha Vaid confirmed her identity but refused to discuss her links to the offshore companies. Rajeev Vaid did not respond to an email sent to an ID provided by an employee of Boston Analytics.
–Abhishek Angad/New Delhi
Arshad Yusuf Wahedna & Upma Chauhan
Offshore entity: Blakemore Consulting Corporation Location:BVI
Arshad Yusuf Wahedna and Upma Chauhan are shareholders in Blakemore Consulting Corporation. Both were issued one share each on May 10, 2000. Arshad was appointed director on July 28, 1999 and Upma on June 14, 2000. The address provided when they set up the company was Prebon Yamane (India) Limited, but Arshad no longer works there. Upma is the sister of Vijay Choraria, managing director, Prebon Yamane.
Arshad and Upma ceased to be shareholders in Blakemore on April 30, 2010. The shares were transferred to Padam Baid, 604, Al Rolla Street, Al Rolla Plaza, Bur Dubai, as per a resolution by all directors dated April 30, 2010.
Since the incorporation of Blakemore, Upma and Arshad were issued a share each, valued on the date of the resolution at GBP 25,000 each. Padam Baid made available certain “facilities” to Blakemore worth GBP 50,000. Upma and Arshad transferred their shares to Padam Baid in exchange for the cancellation of the debt. Both resigned on April 30, 2010. Arshad is a shareholder in another BVI company called Esytel Commercial SA. He was issued 500 shares on March 17, 2003. He was issued 1,000 shares on July 11, 2005. He ceased to be a member on September 5, 2006, after he was issued 500 shares. Another 500 shares were issued to Forbes Partners Corp.
This company ceased to be a member on March 11, 2008.
Arshad is a shareholder in a third company Chrysanthemum Limited in Seychelles in which he has 53 shares. He has provided a Dubai address. The second shareholder in the company is Gaurav Goel with 43 shares and a Dubai address.
RESPONSE: Vijay Choraria refused to provide a forwarding address or email ID for his sister Upma. “She has been an NRI for at least 20 years and used to work as a physiotherapist in the USA. She is married and has two children. My sister is a simple, middle-class person,” said Choraria.
Offshore entity: Y Cube Holdings Ltd
MF records show that Samir Yamdagni was the sole director and shareholder of Y Cube Holdings Ltd set up on December 6, 2005. The company was incorporated as Lifecycle Holdings Ltd and later renamed Y Cube Holdings Ltd. Records list Delhi’s Sarvodaya Enclave as Yamdagni’s address.
At the address, Yamdagni’s cousin Vivek Sharma claimed that he owned the property, adding that Yamdagni’s parents lived in Vasant Vihar but were travelling. Yamdagni, according to Sharma, moved to Bangkok in the 1990s and is settled there.
According to ycubeholdings.com, the entity is an investment company established in 1993. The website describes CEO Yamdagni as “a visionary, serial entrepreneur, and a mentor who has the unique distinction of developing multimillion dollar businesses from scratch in at least 3 different territories”.
Yamdagni is also one of the founding directors of YCube Engineered Solutions Private Limited, an Indian company (ycubeindia.com), since July 2010.
RESPONSE: “I am not an Indian citizen and/or passport holder. The Y Cube Company is set up as a trading company so we can trade with China. Although set up some time ago, this company has not done any business with China and thus has remained ‘stagnant’ despite several attempts to do some business. This company does not have any relationship with any other company where I am a shareholder,” stated Samir Yamdagni, in an email.
–Jay Mazoomdaar/New Delhi
Indian money in offshore entities: The Panama Papers