More than 700 Indian companies and individuals have been linked to tax havens.
In what is being labelled as the ‘Paradise Papers’ the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), in partnership with 96 news organisations, has revealed how two firms — Appleby in Bermuda and Asiaciti Trust in Singapore — helped high-profile individuals and corporations avoid paying taxes by setting up offshore entities.
The 13 million-plus files that were leaked show that as many as 714 Indian companies and individuals are linked to offshore entities set up in tax havens, according to The Indian Express.
Out of 180 countries, India ranks 19th in terms of the number of names to have cropped up in the Paradise Papers. Politicians, celebrities and listed companies figure on the list:
Ashok Gehlot, Sachin Pilot, Vayalar Ravi
A company registered by Appleby Mauritius had invested in an Indian firm that is at the centre of an investigation by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate in connection with the Rajasthan Ambulance “scam”.
One of the founders of the firm is the son of Congress leader and former Union minister for Overseas Affairs Vayalar Ravi.
A police complaint had earlier named former Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot, former finance minister P Chidambaram’s son Karti, and former Union minister Sachin Pilot.
YS Jagan Mohan Reddy
The documents have revealed fresh financial links in the ongoing CBI case involving YSR Congress Chief YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, who was earlier in trouble in connection with disproportionate assets.
Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha had worked with Omidyar Network as Managing Director in India and Omidyar Network had invested in a US company D.Light Design that has a subsidiary in Cayman Islands, according to a report based on the Paradise Papers investigation.
Sinha said the transactions were not done for any “personal purpose”.
In addition to Vayalar Ravi, M Veerappa Moily is the other UPA minister in the limelight in connection with the Paradise Papers. According to The Indian Express, Moily’s son Harsha started a firm which received investments from subsidiaries a company linked to tax havens. Veerappa Moily was the Union minister for Corporate Affairs at the time.
BJP MP RK Sinha
Rajya Sabha MP Ravindra Kishore Sinha, founder of a private security firm Security and Intelligence Services (SIS) which went public earlier this year, is the head of an organisation which has two offshore companies, according to The Indian Express.
“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,” said Sinha.
Data has revealed Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan’s shareholding in a Bermuda-based company. The actor was also named in connection with the Panama Papers in 2015.
The Paradise Papers have also shed light on the business dealings of Manyata, the wife of Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt. The Indian Express reports that Manyata, whose real name is Dilnashin, held positions in a company registered in the Bahamas. A spokesperson for Manyata said the necessary disclosures were made to the income tax authorities.
Companies and Business Figures
Appleby’s files also revealed that when former Indian liquor magnate Vijay Mallya, who is on the run from Indian authorities at the moment, sold his United Spirits Limited India to Diageo, the latter approached a London-based law firm to implement a massive restructuring exercise aimed at simplifying the complex corporate structure Mallya had created.
The documents go on to reveal that close to USD 1.5 billion of USL Holdings’ loans, which were funnelled into four subsidiary companies in the form of debt, were waived off by Diageo.
Appleby’s data also includes thousands of documents on Delhi-based GMR Group. The Income Tax Department had raided the group last year and had uncovered an attempt of avoid tax via a network of 28 offshore entities which were setup by Appleby.
Data from Appleby also includes names of Indian companies and business individuals such as Jindal Steel, Apollo Tyres, Havells, the Hindujas, Emaar MGF, Videocon, Hiranandani Group and DS Construction.
NOTE: ICIJ, which sifted through the data, published the following disclaimer with regards to information provided: “There are legitimate uses for offshore companies, foundations and trusts. We do not intend to suggest or imply that any persons. companies or other entities included in the list have broken the law or otherwise acted improperly.”