Pandora Papers: Nine big takeaways from the explosive tax haven leaks

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October 04, 2021 6:12 PM

The investigation also revealed that big-ticket loan defaulters including Anil Ambani who declared themselves bankrupt have stashed billions abroad via offshore entities.

The report was prepared based on 12 million documents from 14 companies in offshore tax havens with details of ownership of 29,000 offshore companies and Trusts.

The Pandora Papers report by The Indian Express has so far brought to the fore revealing instances of tax fraud. It has been reported that India’s super rich are finding ingenious new ways to ring-fence their wealth. The report was prepared based on 12 million documents from 14 companies in offshore tax havens with details of ownership of 29,000 offshore companies and Trusts. The report was prepared in collaboration with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). The investigation also revealed that big-ticket loan defaulters including Anil Ambani who declared themselves bankrupt have stashed billions abroad via offshore entities.

Here are 9 biggest takeaways from the findings so far:

Anil Ambani: In 2020, Anil Ambani had told a British court that his net worth was zero. Ambani had made the statement during a hearing of a case involving his company and three Chinese state-controlled banks. The Pandora Papers revealed that Anil Ambani and his representatives own 18 offshore companies in Jersey, the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and Cyprus. These firms were set up between 2007 and 2010 and seven of these have borrowed and invested at least $1.3 billion.

Biocon’s Kiran Mazumdar Shaw’s Husband: According to the IE report, the SEBI had imposed a ban on Allegro Capital Private Ltd and its majority shareholder, Bengaluru-headquartered Kunal Ashok Kashyap in July this year. Kashyap is the ‘Protector’ of The Deanstone Trust. The trust was set up in 2015 in New Zealand by Mauritius-based Glentec International. Glentec holds shares of Biocon Ltd and is 99 per cent owned by John McCallum Marshall Shaw, who is the husband of Kiran Mazumdar Shaw. John McCallum Marshall Shaw is a British citizen.

Cox and King’s Ajay Ajit Peter Kerkar: Though behind bars at present, Kerkar has two BVI trusts on his name and is connected to at least half a dozen offshore companies. Most of these firms were set up by Kerkar and his partner Shyam Maheshwari. Cox and Kings owe Rs 5,500 crore to banks in India.

Iqbal Mirchi and Family: The family member of Iqbal Mirchi, a trusted aide of Dawood Ibrahim, have been a step ahead of the enforcement agencies. They have been making several offshore deals that link a retired Pakistan Army general as well. According to the Pandora Papers, 17 offshore firms were found to be linked to Mirchi’s family. After the Panama Papers expose, the Mirchi family had transferred offshore companies from Mossack Fonseca to the Trident Trust of the British Virgin Islands. Not only Iqbal Mirchi’s first wife Hajra Iqbal Memon and his two sons, but Akbar Asif, the brother of Iqbal Mirchi’s second wife, Heena Kauser has been found involved in offshore entities. Secret records of Trident Trust BVI reveal that in 2007, Akbar Asif, the wife and son of Lt Gen Shafaat Ullah Shah, now a retired three-star General of the Pakistani Army, became shareholders in one of Asif’s companies, Talah Limited.

Jackie Shroff: The Pandora Papers revealed that actor Jackie Shroff was the key beneficiary of a trust set up in New Zealand by his mother-in-law. Shroff had also made contributions to the trust. The trust had a Swiss bank account and an offshore company registered in the British Virgin Islands.

Samir Thapar: The IE investigation has revealed that an offshore stakeholder in JCT Ltd is linked to the textile company’s chairman and MD Samir Thapar. Notably, JCT Ltd had declared the offshore stakeholder as a non-promoter. This offshore entity is registered in the British Virgin Islands, where Thapar is also the beneficial owner of another company. The offshore stakeholder Musk Holdings was set up in 2009 and has a stake in JCT Ltd.

Gautam Adani’s Brother: Billionaire businessman Gautam Adani’s brother Vinod Shantilal Shah Adani had set up a company in the British Virgin Islands three years ago. He now claims that the company has been closed. As per the records, Vinod Adani set up Hibiscus RE Holdings Limited in the British Virgin Islands in 2018 and was the sole shareholder of this offshore firm with 50,000 shares.

Former Union Minister Satish Sharma: The Pandora Papers revealed that former Union Minister Satish Sharma, who is a friend of the Gandhi family, had several offshore entities and properties in his name. Notably, Sharma had died earlier this year. At least 10 members of the Sharma family including his wife Sterre, children and grandchildren are among the beneficiaries of the Jan Zegers Trust set up by Sharma.

Nira Radia: The Pandora Papers also feature corporate lobbyist Niira (Nira) Radia. She is a do not contact client of Trident Trust Company BVI which provides corporate service. It has been been conducting offshore transactions through London-based Sanjay Newatia on behalf for Raida. Radia’s name is linked to about a dozen offshore firms and a more detailed account of transactions executed by these firms including the purchase of a $2,51,500 watch in Dubai.

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