Indian money in offshore entities: The Pandora Papers
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NEW DELHI: The names of several Indian businessmen, celebrities and politicians have been revealed in an unprecedented leak of financial documents known as the "Pandora Papers".
As many as 380 Indians are on the list of the global elite who have been exposed for ringfencing their wealth through shadowy financial transactions and using offshore tax havens to hide assets worth millions of dollars.
The "treasure trove" of nearly 11.9 million confidential files has been obtained by a global network of reporters and publication houses called the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). As many as 600 journalists from 150 news organisations sifted through the documents for two years to come up with the findings.
Prominent Indians in Pandora Papers
The ICIJ and its partner in India, The Indian Express, mentioned the names of famous Indians such as cricketing icon Sachin Tendulkar, businessman Anil Ambani, diamantaire Nirav Modi's sister and Biocon promoter Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw's husband.
The documents show that Tendulkar, along with family members, owned an offshore entity in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) that was liquidated in 2016 shortly after the leak of a similar set of financial documents called the Panama Papers.
However, Tendulkar's representative said the transactions were completely legitimate and also declared to the income tax authorities, according to the report.
Businessman Anil Ambani, who recently filed for bankruptcy in a UK court, is also mentioned in the documents concerning off-shore entities.
The younger Ambani's lawyer, however, also told the newspaper that his client had followed all required procedures and made declarations before the concerned authorities.
Furthermore, the Indian Express revealed that a month before fugitive diamond jeweller Nirav Modi fled India in January 2018, his sister Purvi Modi set up a firm in the British Virgin Islands to act as a corporate protector of a trust formed through the Trident Trust Company, Singapore.
Purvi Modi's lawyer, however, denied all allegations of wrongdoing, the newspaper reported.
The report also named the husband of Biocon promoter Kiran Mazumder Shaw, who had set up a trust with keys to a person who was banned by Sebi for insider trading.
The Biocon promoter, however, refuted the documents and said that her husband's offshore trust is "bonafide" and "legitimate".
Pakistanis in the pack
As many as 700 Pakistanis, including members of Prime Minister Imran Khan's inner circle, have been named in the leaked documents.
According to the ICIJ, members of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s inner circle, including current and former cabinet ministers, secretly owned an array of companies and trusts holding millions of dollars of hidden wealth.
Documents accessed by Pakistani investigative journalists show that Khan’s water resources minister, Chaudhry Moonis Elahi, contacted a Singapore-based offshore services provider Asiaciti in 2016 about setting up a trust to invest the profits from a family land deal that had been financed by what the lender later claimed was an illegal loan.
The bank told Pakistani authorities that the loan had been approved due to the influence of Elahi’s father, a former deputy prime minister.
Asiaciti records say that Elahi backed off from putting money into a trust in Singapore after the provider told him it would report the details to Pakistani tax authorities.
Elahi did not respond to ICIJ’s requests for comment. According to the investigation's findings, Pakistan finance minister Tarin and his family members own four offshore companies.
It quoted Tariq Fawad Malik, a financial consultant who handled the paperwork for the companies, as saying that they were set up as part of the Tarin family’s intended investment in a bank with a Saudi business.
The leaked documents also provide a rare glimpse into the secret financial dealings of the Pakistani generals.
According to Dawn.com, the investigation revealed that "a luxury London apartment was transferred from the son of a famous Indian movie director to the wife of a three-star general".
The general told ICIJ the property purchase was disclosed and proper.
According to details, the wife of retired Lt Gen Shafaat Ullah Shah, a former aide to then-president Pervez Musharraf, acquired a $1.2 million apartment in London "through a discreet offshore transaction" in 2007.
The investigation found that the property was transferred to Lt Gen Shah's wife by an offshore company owned by Akbar Asif, the son of famous Indian film director K Asif.
Interestingly, Akbar’s sister, Heena Kausar, is the widow of Iqbal Mirchi, a key figure in the Dawood Ibrahim-led crime syndicate "D-company".
Prominent Pakistanis in the Pandora Papers
The leaked “Pandora Papers” revealed names of more than 700 Pakistanis as among rich and powerful international figures who were allegedly hiding their financial secrets through offshore companies. The files, unveiled by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), pose a big challenge for PM Imran Khan, who had knocked out his arch-political rival, former PM Nawaz Sharif, through a Supreme Court order in the “Panama Papers” case that had barred Sharif from holding public office in future.
The latest papers have named Khan’s cabinet members and financial backers, politicians, retired generals, media owners and businessmen as possessing secret offshore financial assets. As Khan had vowed that stern action would be taken against Pakistanis if found involved in a scam, his first big test would be to decide on finance minister Shaukat Tarin, minister for water resources Chaudhry Moonis Elahi and his predecessor Faisal Vawda, National Bank of Pakistan president Arif Usmani, the PM’s ambassador at large for foreign investment Ali Jehangir Siddiqui, the managing director of the national investment trust, Adnan Afridi, and others whose names were unearthed by the leaked papers. The names of several retired Pakistani generals and their children have also figured in the “Pandora Papers”. According to the leaked files, ex-President Pervez Musharraf ’s military secretary, Lt Gen Shafatullah Shah, owns an expensive apartment in London through an offshore company that is in the names of his wife and son.
Former ISI director-general (counter-terrorism) Major General Nusrat Naeem (Retd) got a company registered soon after his retirement in 2009. The son of Lt Gen Afzal Muzaffar (Retd) held an offshore firm that was used for a business in the UAE. Muzaffar was implicated in a case related to making an illegal investment of Pakistani Rs 4.3 billion in the stock market while being the director-general of the army’s national logistics cell, which caused a loss of Pakistani Rs 1.8 billion.
The wife of former defence production secretary Lt General Tanvir Tahir is a shareholder in an offshore company and the sister of Lt Gen Ali Quli Khan bought properties in the UK through an offshore company, the “Pandora Papers” claim. She made this purchase through the fortune she had inherited from her deceased father, Lt General Habibullah Khattak (Retd). Two sons of a former chief of air staff, Air Chief Marshal Abbas Khattak, also own an offshore company, according to the Pandora Papers. The documents claimed that publishers of the Jang Group, Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, the Dawn Group’s Hameed Haroon, the Express Group’s Sultan Lakhani and Pakistan Today’s late Arif Nizami hold one offshore company each.
Pakistan’s opposition called on the PM to order all those named in the leak to resign.
Some prominent names in the Pandora Papers
Excerpted from various issues of The Indian Express
Adani, Vinod Shantilal Shah: Adani brother set up a company in BVI; says it has been closed now The records show that Vinod Shantilal Shah Adani, elder brother of Gautam Adani, set up Hibiscus RE Holdings Limited in the British Virgin Islands in 2018.
Advani, Hiroo: 3 offshore companies connect Swiss bank, top arbitrator and his wife, Gulf tycoon Hiroo Advani founded Advani & Co, India’s “oldest specialised arbitration practice” in 1986. The law firm’s website describes him as a “world authority on arbitration law” and “one of only two Indian lawyers ever listed in the International Who’s Who of Commercial Arbitrators”.
Ambani, Anil: What ‘bankrupt’ Anil Ambani didn’t tell: his $1.3-billion web of offshore firms Made disclosures to Indian authorities as required to be made in compliance with law: Anil Ambani's lawyer.
Bharat Ram, Vivek and Sukanya: DCM scion, his wife held shares in BVI company The offshore firm, Socina Ventures Limited, was set up by Trident Trust Company in the British Virgin Islands in February 2008 and existed at least till February 2015. Records show that shares of Socina Ventures were issued to Vivek and Sukanya between March 2008 and December 2011.
Bhartia, Abhishek and others: Family behind premier hospital in Delhi set up offshore firm with assets worth $35 mn Documents show that of $35.39 million assets of Carmichael Inc, $12.4 million was in cash and equivalent, and $22.9 million (market value $24.25 million) in investments.
Burman, Gaurav: Offshore footprint found in origins of IPL teams Rajasthan Royals, Kings XI Punjab The documents reveal the links of Gaurav Burman, fifth generation scion of Dabur’s Burman family and husband of Lalit Modi’s stepdaughter Karima, with the Kings XI Punjab franchisee. And also that of Indian businessman in Nigeria, Suresh Chellaram, whose wife Kavita is sister of Lalit Modi’s late wife Minal, with the Rajasthan Royals franchisee.
Choudhrie, Bhanu: Cyprus via British Virgin Islands: Arms agent family widens empire Records of Demetrios A Demetriades & Co (Dadlaw), a law firm that provides corporate services, show that it received direct instructions from Bhanu Choudhrie on managing Lifedream Trading Ltd which was incorporated in Cyprus in 2001.
Gandhi, Ajay: Antrix Diamonds defaults on bank loans, its owner sets up web of offshore companies Records pertaining to Antrix Diamonds Exports Pvt Ltd, an Indian firm promoted by Ajay Gandhi, show that Singapore-based Andin Investments owned more than 20 per cent stake in Antrix Diamonds which owes over Rs 500 crore to public sector banks in India and has been declared a wilful defaulter.
Gupta, Shravan of MGF: He owned BVI firm, JV with Emaar got $2 million Gupta was the beneficial owner of a company in BVI where its Finance Ministry issued two notices after his name surfaced in the HSBC Bank (Geneva) list of Indian account holders.
Hiranandani: Mumbai real estate major Hiranandani: Link to BVI, trust with $60 million in assets Niranjan was the “reserve director” in at least three firms set up in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) by his Dubai-based son.
Jiwrajka brothers Alok Industries ex-owners, top defaulters, set up offshore network According to the Pandora Papers, Alok Worldwide was incorporated in July 2013 with the three Jiwrajka brothers as directors and Alok Industries Ltd as sole shareholder.
Kerkar, Peter: Held for fraud, Peter Kerkar of Cox and Kings linked to offshore firms Documents investigated by The Indian Express show the two BVI vista trusts —The Welcome Trust and The Castle Cove Trust — were both set up in March 2010 with Kerkar, his wife Emma Patience Tully, and their two daughters as the ultimate beneficial owners and Aleman, Cordero, Galindo & Lee Trust (BVI) Ltd as their trustee.
Khaitan: Owners of Radico Khaitan, manufacturer of IMFL, have their assets in offshore trusts The Register of Directors of Beecool Global Holdings Limited states that ever since September 4, 2012, the Timberlane Trust held 50,000 ordinary shares of USD1 each of Beecool Global Holdings Limited.
Khorakiwala, Habil Fakhruddin: Wockhardt founder, family hold shares worth $20 million in Panama firm Records show that at the time of incorporation in 2011, the capital of Barrymil Investments SA was $10,000, divided into 10,000 shares of $1 each.
Loomba, Lt General (retired) Rakesh Kumar Ex-chief of Military Intelligence and son set up firm in Seychelles; pegged inflow at $1 mn In December 2016, Lt General (retired) Rakesh Kumar Loomba registered Rarint Partners Ltd in Seychelles along with son Rahul Loomba.
Mehta, Dilip: Rosy Blue rejigged its offshore network after Panama expose None of these entities has any connection with India nor are within ambit of any Indian law: Dilip Mehta
Mirchi, Iqbal: Iqbal Mirchi family expands offshore empire, with links to ex-Pak General, Iqbal Mirchi was a trusted aide of underworld gangster Dawood Ibrahim and was wanted by the Mumbai Police and the Enforcement Directorate. He was arrested by Scotland Yard in 1994 and died of a heart attack in London in 2013.
Mirji, Chiranthan: Son of former Bengaluru police chief opened firm in Seychelles According to the Incorporation Order/ Instruction Sheet of Seychelles-headquartered corporate services firm Aabol (All About Offshore Limited), the offshore entity’s name was Mesh Jyot Global Ltd.
Mittal, Pramod: How Pramod Mittal ‘owed’ $1 bn to Pramod Mittal — and got his deal In 2008, show records of Appleby, Mittal made an “inter group transfer” of an aircraft registered in the name of Global Aircraft Limited, a Bermuda company, by transferring its shares from GSHL to Prasan PTC Ltd, the BVI Trust company.
Modi, Purvi: Before Nirav Modi fled, sister founded offshore firm to act as trust protector Records investigated by The Indian Express show that the firm, Brookton Management Ltd, was set up in December 2017 to act as the corporate protector of The Deposit Trust.
Prasad, Manoj: Booked by CBI, Manoj Prasad owns 2 offshore companies Son of a former officer of the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), Prasad was booked by the CBI when the agency’s then Director Alok Verma and Special Director Rakesh Asthana were engaged in an acrimonious public faceoff.
Radia, Niira: Niira Radia set up a dozen firms, asked Trident Trust to not contact her directly Radia, whose name earlier figured in both The Panama Papers and The Paradise Papers, once again figures in the Pandora Papers with about a dozen offshore firms and a more detailed account of transactions executed by these firms including the purchase of a $251,500 watch in Dubai through one of her BVI companies.
Rajapaksa, Nirupama & Nadesan, Thirukumar: Sri Lankan power couple piled up luxury homes, artworks and cash offshore as ruling family rose and rose As of 2017, Nirupama Rajapaksa and Thirukumar Nadesan’s offshore holdings, which haven’t previously been made public, had a value of about $18 million, according to an ICIJ analysis of a Nadesan trust’s financial statements.
Rajvansh, Homi : IRS officer and an ex-IT Chief Commissioner In 2019, Homi Rajvansh was put on compulsory retirement; IT Commissioner pegged assets at $500,000.
Sadanandan, Satyajit & Gilani, Syed Mohsen: India-Pakistan duo passed proceeds from football deals to Seychelles firm Bengaluru-based Satyajit Sadanandan is a former FIFA grassroots instructor “specialising in sports investments and talent development”. Syed Mohsen Gilani is a Pakistani settled in Colombo and a former FIFA development officer.
Salve, Harish buys BVI firm to acquire London apartment Salve was allotted 50,000 shares in Marsul on September 15, 2015, according to the Register of Members prepared by the company’s agent, Aleman, Cordero, Galindo & Lee Trust (BVI) Ltd or Alcogal. A Register of Members is essentially a list of a company’s shareholders.
Sandesara, Nitin formed 6 offshore firms to expand oil trade after fleeing India Nitin Sandesara is the sole beneficial owner of these firms and he has declared that the funds infused in these companies are his “savings”.
Saraf, Radhe Shyam who owns a group of companies running a chain of Hyatt hotels in the country, has settled his properties in tax haven Belize through two trusts.
Shaw, John McCallum Marshall: Offshore entities of Kiran Mazumdar Shaw’s husband have Biocon shares, $85 million; trust advisor banned by Sebi Glentec is disclosed to Sebi and RBI, says Shaw, beneficiary kin are foreign nationals.
Shetty, BR: is a bankrupt billionaire — with a network of BVI firms Once famous for his fleet of Rolls Royces, private jets and yachts, Shetty is now under intense pressure from lenders and banks to declare his full list of assets, holdings and investments.
Shroff, Jackie: Jackie Shroff linked to New Zealand trust, BVI firm, Swiss bank account Responding to queries from The Indian Express, Ayesha Shroff said: “My family and I have absolutely no knowledge of any such Trust. My mother, who passed away over ten years ago, was a Belgian citizen and not a resident of India.”
Singh, Malvinder and Shivinder: Post-Ranbaxy, Singh brothers, now in jail, opened 2 offshore firms Malvinder Singh and his younger brother Shivinder Singh set up two offshore firms in the British Virgin Islands.
Suris/ Jyotsna Suri took tax haven route to hotel projects in Dubai, London According to records of Trident Trust (BVI), a corporate service provider, investigated by The Indian Express, Bharat Hotels promoter Jyotsna Suri’s interests in hotel projects Dubai and London were held by an offshore subsidiary of Deeksha Holdings Limited, the largest shareholder (40.41%) in Bharat Hotels Limited.
Tendulkar, Sachin: Sachin Tendulkar, wife, her father, had BVI company, wound up after Panama expose Shares bought back in 2016 for $2.68 million; all investments under LRS, declared to tax authorities, says Sachin Tendulkar's spokesperson.
Thapar, Samir: Samir Thapar owns BVI firm holding ‘non-promoter’ stake in JCT Ltd A certificate of incumbency issued by Trident Trust (BVI) in September 2011 records Thapar as the holder of all 50,000 shares of Musk Holdings Ltd (BVI). In the same year, records show, he acquired Zanha International Ltd (BVI) as its beneficial owner.
Tiku, Arvind: India-born Singapore billionaire takes offshore route. His business associates include LN Mittal, chairman of the world’s largest steel and metal company, ArcelorMittal, and Timur Kulibaev, son-in-law of former President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev.
Timblo: Family trust of Goa miner Timblo’s son, transactions under Singapore scanner The IRAS asked for details of Timblo’s Colares Trust in Singapore and its three underlying firms – Calheta Holdings Ltd in Samoa, Cazar Finance SA in the British Virgin Islands and Panama-based Corylus Assets Inc.
Vashisht, Tushar, son of former Haryana DGP Shriniwas Vashisht HealthifyMe’s parent entity linked to former Putin aide’s fund We have been transparent to tax authorities, says company on declaration of its interests.
Vazirani: Art auction major linked to clutch of offshore companies Records of Panamanian law firm Alcogal show that in 2006, the Vaziranis registered a set of companies in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and some were “in good standing” at least until January 2017.
Indian money in offshore entities: The Pandora Papers