Panama papers leak case: In a major development and cracking the whip in Panama papers leak case, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials on Thursday seized Rs 7 crore from Mehra family of Mehrasons Jewellers of Delhi. Noteworthy, this is the first seizure by ED officials under Section 37A of Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 (FEMA). The owner of Mehrasons Jewellers – Ashwani Kumar Mehra and his family members – were named for being involved with offshore companies in tax havens, according to Indian Express. Mehrasons Jewellers name also came up in Panama papers leak case in which the names of some Indians have come up. Reportedly, the family was involved in offshore companies.
Panama papers exposed the offshore links of some of the world’s most prominent people including Mehrasons. According to The Indian Express, since 1999, the Mehrasons 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. The owner of Mehrasons Jewellers, Ashwani Kumar Mehra’s corporate profile lists his sons, Deepak Mehra and Navin Mehra, as partners in his jewellery empire.
Ashwani Kumar Mehra
No. of offshore entities: 7
Location: Bahamas and BVI
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, according to Indian Express.
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.