714 Indian firms and citizens figure in offshore tax havens

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 07 Nov 2017 08:41:21



Multi-agency group, which is probing Panama Papers leak, will also probe Paradise Papers which lists Amitabh Bachchan, Vijay Mallya, corporate lobbyist Niira Radia, Sanjay Dutt’s wife Dilnashin, Union Minister Jayant Sinha and Rajya Sabha MP R K Sinha and others

MINISTER of State Jayant Sinha, BJP MP Ravindra Kishore, Congress leader Sachin Pilot, former Minister P. Chidambaram’s son Karti and Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachhan figure among 714 Indians named in a financial data expose on how the world’s rich and powerful have stashed their wealth abroad to evade legitimate taxes, according to a world-wide investigation whose first lot of revelations was published on Monday.

A multi-agency group (MAG) probing the Panama Papers leak will look into the ‘Paradise Papers’ on financial holdings abroad that list a number of 714 Indian individuals and entities, official sources said on Monday.
The latest disclosure was made by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
India ranks 19th among 180 countries, exposed in the cache of 13.4 million documents dubbed as ‘Paradise Papers’, in terms of the number of individuals and companies who have skirted taxes and invested in offshore companies in tax havens.

It comes a year after Panama Papers leak and two days before the Government observes “Anti-Black Money Day” to mark the first anniversary of demonetisation -- a move that sought to hit at illicit wealth. The data relates to two firms - Bermuda’s Appleby and Singapore’s Asiaciti and 19 tax havens across the world that help the global rich to move their money abroad, according to the ‘Indian Express’ which was part of the world-wide probe carried out by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
“Interestingly, it is an Indian company, Sun Group, founded by Nand Lal Khemka, that figures as Appleby’s second-largest client internationally, with as many as 118 different offshore entities,” the newspaper said.

The leaked data indicates that among Appleby’s Indian clients were several prominent corporates and companies which subsequently came under the scrutiny of investigating agencies like the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate.

These include firms in the Sun-TV-Aircel-Maxis case; Essar-Loop 2G case; SNS-Lavalin in which Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan was named and then cleared; the Rajasthan ambulance scam which has recently been routed to the CBI and which names a company called Ziquista Healthcare (Sachin Pilot and Karti Chidambaram were earlier honorary/independent directors of the firms respectively); and fresh financial links in a CBI case against YSR Congress chief Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy.

Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha’s name figures in the record because of his past association with Omidyar Network. BJP Rajya Sabha member Ravindra Kishore Sinha, a former journalist who founded the private security service firm SIS or Security and Intelligence Services, is heading a group that has two offshore entities in Malta offshore. Besides corporates, the data revealed details of individuals as well: Amitabh Bachchan’s shareholding in a Bermuda company acquired before the 2004 Liberalised Remittance Scheme kicked in; corporate lobbyist Niira Radia and film star Sanjay Dutt’s wife who figures under her former name Dilnashin, now known as Manyata. “After leaving Omidyar Network, I was asked to continue on the D.Light Board as an Independent Director. On joining the Union Council of Ministers, I immediately resigned from the D.Light Board and severed my involvement with the company.”
But the Congress was not impressed with his defence and demanded Jayant Sinha’s resignation and a “high-level probe” into the scam.