Paradise Papers: Amitabh Bachchan, Top Politicians Among 714 Indians on List
Over 700 Indians are named in the Paradise Papers, the second biggest leak of documents from two companies — Bermuda’s Appleby and Singapore’s Asiaciti Trust — that show how the rich move their money into offshore accounts.
The documents were accessed by German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and investigated by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in partnership with several newspapers worldwide, including the Indian Express.
Among the 714 Indians named in the 13.4 million documents, are Cabinet Minister Jayant Sinha and BJP MP Ravindra Kishore Sinha. Also mentioned on the list, an information leak of 1.4 tb data, are actor Sanjay Dutt’s wife Manyata by her former name, former public relations professional Niira Radia, Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan, former Cabinet ministers Vayalar Ravi and M Veerappa Moily, and chairman of Fortis-Escorts, Dr Ashok Seth.
BJP Ministers on the List
The investigation revealed that BJP MP Ravindra Kishore Sinha, the founder of private security firm SIS, heads two offshore companies. He responded to the allegations by saying: “These matters have been fully disclosed in the various filings with SEBI as a part of the IPO of Security and Intelligence Services (India) Limited.”
In a series of tweets, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha said: “Full details have been provided to Indian Express. These were bonafide and legal transactions undertaken on behalf of highly reputed world-leading organizations in my fiduciary role as Partner at Omidyar Network and its designated representative on the D.Light Board. All these transactions have been fully disclosed to relevant authorities through all necessary filings as required. 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. It is crucial to note that these transactions were done for D.Light as an Omidyar representative, and not for any personal purpose.”
Links to Former UPA Ministers
When Veerappa Moily was part of the UPA government, his son Harsha had floated a firm that received investment from a Mauritius-based firm, Unitus Impact PCC.
Harsha issued a statement about the Paradise Papers leak issue, saying: “Having founded Moksha-Yug Access Private Limited (MYA) and led the company as its CEO since its inception in 2005, I have seen MYA experience growth as well as face significant challenges in operating an impact business in rural India. The dairy/ agri space is extremely volatile, but it is a critical sector for rural India and we worked hard to make our business model work…Please also note that we have raised capital from a range of other professional institutional investors such as Unitus Equity Fund and Khosla Impact (both of whom originally invested in 2008) through their investment vehicles, with much of the overall equity investment into MYA having started even before my father became a Union Minister in UPA II.”
A company registered by Appleby in Mauritius invested in an Indian firm — founded by son of Congress leader and former Union minister Vayalar Ravi — that is caught in the Rajasthan Ambulance Scam. Former Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot; Karti Chidambaram, the son of former Finance Minister P Chidambaram; former Union minister Sachin Pilot, and Ravi Krishna, the son of Vayalar Ravi, were named in the initial complaint by the Rajasthan Police in 2014 and then in 2015 by the CBI.
Vijay Mallya‘s Involvement
The documents also revealed that when the Diageo group bought fugitive Vijay Mallya’s United Spirits Limited India, they waived off a $1.5 billion debt. That fund was diverted using four offshore subsidiaries of the USL group, which indicates that Mallya received more money than the declared Rs 1,225 crore.
Other Famous Indians
Manyata Dutt, whose real name is Dilnashin, held positions in a company called Nasjay Company Limited, set up in the Bahamas. Dutt’s spokesperson said, “As per the requirements of provisions of Income-tax Act, 1961, all the properties, company or body corporate or shares in any company are declared in the balance sheet.”
Top cardiologist Ashok Seth, the chairman of Fortis-Escorts, was also said to have held shares in a Singapore-based company that manufactures stents, leading to a conflict of interest.
Corporate lobbyist Niira Radia was registered as the director, legal and judicial representative in Suez La Vallette Limited, incorporated in Malta in April 2012, and Pegasus International Advisors Limited, incorporated in Malta in August 2011.
Amitabh Bachchan, meanwhile, is said to have became the shareholder of Jalva Media Ltd., a Bermuda-based digital media company, in 2002. Silicon Valley venture investor Navin Chaddha was also a shareholder of the company. It was set up in Bermuda on July 20, 2000 and dissolved in 2005.
At least 127 international celebrities have been named in the leaked data, including Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and singers Bono and Madonna.
The findings also reveal involvement of 13 allies, major donors and Cabinet members of U.S. President Donald Trump. Files show Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s interests in a shipping firm that makes millions from an energy firm whose owners include Russian President Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law and a sanctioned Russian tycoon.
The investigation, performed by 382 reporters at almost 100 media outlets, involved study of over 13 million tax haven documents covering the period 1950-2016, Efe news reported.
In a statement, Applyby said: “We are a law firm which advises clients on legitimate and lawful ways to conduct their business. We do not tolerate illegal behavior,” adding that “there is no evidence of any wrongdoing, either on the part of ourselves or our clients.”
“We refute any allegations that may suggest otherwise and we would be happy to cooperate fully with any legitimate and authorized investigation of the allegations by the appropriate and relevant authorities…Having researched the ICIJ’s allegations, we believe they are unfounded and based on a lack of understanding of the legitimate and lawful structures used in the offshore sector.”