Millions of leaked documents dubbed the Pandora Papers reveal the offshore financial assets of dozens of current and former world leaders and hundreds of politicians as well as billionaires from in 91 countries and territories, including India. The expose is a part of a global investigation into the shadowy offshore financial system that allows multinational corporations, the rich, famous and powerful to avoid taxes and otherwise shield their wealth. Moving money through offshore accounts, in mostly low-tax jurisdictions, is legal in most countries, and many of the people named in the data release aren’t accused of criminal wrongdoing.
On a world map highlighting the number of politicians linked with offshore dealings, India is shown as having six and Pakistan seven. Several big names from India including Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Ambani, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw and Jackie Shroff have figured in the first list of Pandora Paper leaks.
Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar reportedly set up a firm in 2007, which was liquidated in 2016, valued at roughly $8.6 million. Tendulkar’s attorney, however, denied the allegations of any wrongdoing and said the cricket player’s investment is legitimate and has been declared to tax authorities.
Last year, Anil Ambani declared himself bankrupt after he was ordered by a London Court to pay USD 716 million to three Chinese banks over loan default. Records in the #PandoraPapers show that the Indian tycoon had reportedly Set up between 2007 and 2010, seven of these companies have borrowed and invested at least $1.3 billion. Ambani and his representatives own at least 18 offshore companies in Jersey, British Virgin Islands and Cyprus.
“The Reliance Group conducts business globally and for legitimate business and regulatory requirements, companies are incorporated in different jurisdictions,” a lawyer on behalf of Anil Ambani told the Indian Express.
John McCallum Marshall
Biocon chief Kiran Mazumdar Shaw’s husband John McCallum Marshall Shaw has reportedly set up an entity that holds 19.76% in Biocon, and has $85 million in various assets, including cash and real estate. According to the investigation, Shaw’s husband set up a trust with keys to a person who has been banned by the SEBI for insider trading. The Biocon promoter has responded to the allegations and stated that no Indian holds any such key.
“Media stories reporting on Pandora Papers wrongly implicate my husband’s offshore trust, which is a bonafide, legitimate trust and is managed by Independent Trustees. No Indian resident holds ‘the key’ to the trust as alleged in these stories,” she tweeted. Glentec is registered with RBI and SEBI, Shaw reportedly said, in response to queries raised by the Indian Express.
Nirav Modi’s sister, Purvi Modi, had set up a trust in the British Virgin Islands, a month before he fled the country (January 2018). Purvi is also under ED’s lens in a $2 billion money laundering case filed against Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi.
Corporate Lobbyist Nira Radia reportedly set up a dozen firms, conducting her offshore transactions through London-based former Credit Suisse banker Sanjay Newatia. Radia’s whose name had also figured in The Panama Papers and The Paradise Papers, had listed her self as “do not contact client” of corporate service provider firm Trident Trust Company BVI. Radia has denied any wrong doings and said, she always made true and accurate disclosures to all relevant authorities, according to the Indian Express.
Actor Jackie Shroff was the prime beneficiary of a trust set up in 2005 in New Zealand by his mother-in-law, Claudia Dutt, the Indian Express reported citing Pandora Paper records. He also made “substantial contributions” to this trust, which had a Swiss bank account and owned an offshore company registered in the British Virgin Islands, records show, the report said. Shroff’s son Jai Shroff (Tiger Shroff) and daughter Krishna Shroff were the other beneficiaries, as per the memorandum concerning the trust.
Responding to the report, Jackie’ Shroff’s spouse Ayesha Shroff said: “My family and I have absolutely no knowledge of any such Trust. My mother, who passed away over ten years ago, was a Belgian citizen and not a resident of India.”
Promoter of bankrupt travel firm Cox and Kings Ltd Ajit Kerkar, who is currently in jail, set up two trusts in the British Virgin Islands in 2010 and has connections with at least half a dozen offshore firms set up between 2010 and 2016, the Indian Express report said
Former Congress leader Satish Sharma reportedly set up a trust in 1995 when he was the Petroleum and Natural Gas minister. He also set up another trust in 2015 when he was a Rajya Sabha member. IN response to the allegations, Sharma’s wife, Sterre Sharma, noted that these trusts were set up to “manage his assets and pass on his inheritance” to the listed beneficiaries.