Actor Amitabh Bachchan, Minister Jayant Sinha and others on Paradise Papers list: How they responded

Here are a few famous names that found a place in the Paradise Papers from India and rest of the world.

Published: 06th November 2017 09:19 PM  |   Last Updated: 07th November 2017 01:20 PM   |  A+A-

By Online Desk

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists late on Sunday released ‘The Paradise Papers’ which reveal offshore interests and activities of more than 120 politicians and world leaders, among many others.

The 13.4 million leaked files from two firms, Bermuda’s Appleby and Singapore’s Asiaciti, which reveal details of company registries in almost 19 tax havens, were obtained by German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, and probed by ICIJ along with 96 news agencies across the world.

Here are a few famous names that found a place in the list from India and rest of the world.

Actor Amitabh Bachchan

Place of Investment: Bermuda

Allegation: The veteran Bollywood actor became a shareholder of a Bermuda-incorporated digital media company “Jalva Media Ltd” in 2002, a year after the first season of the super-hit television show ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ that he hosted.

According to the Indian Express, which is one of the partners of the ICIJ, the company was set up on July 20, 2000 by four California- based Indians, and later ran out of steam and got dissolved in 2005. However, Bachchan along with Silicon Valley venture investor Navin Chaddha, was an early investor.

Bachchan had earlier been named in the Panama papers too, and his name has been linked to the Bofors case as well.

Response: Hours before the list was published, Bachchan wrote on his blog that he only seeks freedom and peace from prominence these days. He was commenting over the allegations levelled against him in Panama Papers case and Bofors scandal.

 “The mentioned 'notices' have yet to be seen or served to me. But I guess in time it shall come,” he wrote.

It remains unclear if the actor was aware of the new list by any means when he wrote the lengthy post.

Union Minister Jayant Sinha

Place of Investment: Bermuda

Allegation: Union civil aviation minister Jayant Sinha, who is also former Minister of State for Finance and venture capitalist, featured on the list because he was the managing director of Omidyar Network, which invested in D. Light, a US company that has a subsidiary in the British Overseas Territory of Cayman Islands.

He resigned from the company in 2013, before being elected to the Lok Sabha in 2013.

Response: In a series of tweets, Sinha said the transactions were legal and bonafide.

“The transactions were undertaken on behalf of highly reputed world-leading organisations in my fiduciary role as partner at Omidyar Network and its designated representative on the D Light Board,” he said.

“It is crucial to note that these transactions were done for D.Light as an Omidyar representative, and not for any personal purpose,” he noted.

Businessman Vijay Mallya

Place of Investment: British Virgin Islands

Allegation: The liquor baron, who is facing legal action for non-repayment of debts worth Rs 9,000 crore in India, was named on the list for allegedly trying to divert funds through an entity in the islands. After selling his United Spirits Limited (USL) to London-based Diageo group in 2013, Mallya allegedly tried to divert USD 1.5 billion misusing the complex holding structure of USL, ICIJ reports.

Appleby received the documents following Diageo’s approach of a legal firm called ‘Linklaters LLP’ for the restructuring procedure.

Response: Yet to respond.

Niira Radia

Corporate lobbyist Niira Radia

Place of Investment: Malta

Allegation: The corporate lobbyist who was named in the Panama papers earlier, was revealed to be the director, legal and judicial representative in “Suez La Vallette Ltd” and “Pegasus International Advisors Ltd” in 2011 and 2012 respectively.

According to the revelations of Panama papers, Radia had established an offshore firm called Crownmart International Group Limited, in the British Virgin Islands. She was also involved in the 2010 phone tapping controversy, where the Income Tax Department intercepted her phone calls with journalists and politicians to try and influence ministerial appointments in the second UPA government.

Response: Niira Radia’s spokesperson was reported as saying to Indian Express that her involvement with Pegasus IA Ltd “was part of her endeavour to be an emerging market specialist with a network spread across the BRICS countries, Africa and other economies.

“Ms Radia did not have any financial interests in the aforesaid company and has neither drawn any salary or material benefits during her period of association with the company. The pertinent disclosures in this regard have been made to the relevant authorities. Ms Radia is not associated with Suez La Vallette Ltd in any manner.”

 Manyata Dutt with husband
 Sanjay Dutt

Actor Sanjay Dutt’s wife Manyata Dutt

Place of Investment: Bahamas

Allegation: Manyata’s signature (as Dilnashin, the name she used earlier) was found in agreements appointing her the Director, Managing Director, President and Treasurer of Nasjay Company Limited in April 2010.

Response: Indian Express reported her spokesperson as having 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.”

BJP MP RK Sinha

Place of Investment: Malta

Allegation: Former journalist and BJP’s Bihar Rajyasabha MP RK Sinha’s private security service firm, Security and Intelligence Services (SIS), was found to have a wing in Malta called SIS Asia Pacific Holdings Ltd or SAPHL. Sinha’s wife Rita Kishore is the director of the company, while he himself is a minor shareholder.

During his submission of the affidavit before the Election Commission of India, Sinha made no reference to his association with SAPHL, Indian Express reported.

Response: IE reported that Sinha admitted to the company being an indirect 100% subsidiary of SIS (India) Ltd, in which he is a shareholder. He said that he has no direct interest in these companies except to the extent of his shareholding.

Businessman Bandi Parthasaradhi Reddy

Place of Investment: Malta

Allegation: Bandi Parthasaradhi Reddy is the founder of pharmaceutical company “Hetero Drugs Limited” that has revenues of approximately $1.9 billion in the 2015 fiscal year. Reddy and his co-Director Venkata Narasa Reddy Attunuri were listed as the legal and judicial representatives of Hetero Malta Limited by the Papers.

Response: “I am not aware of any offshore accounts in my name. If the company has opened any, it will declare if it feels the need. I am not in a position to say anything else,” Reddy was reported as saying to Indian Express.

US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross

Place of Investment: Bermuda

Allegation: Citing leaked documents from a law firm, the ICIJ report said Donald Trump’s billionaire commerce secretary has a 31 percent stake in Navigator Holdings - the company that transports gas to a Russian firm called Sibur.

Meanwhile, leading US media reported that Sibur is closely associated with Russian President Vladimir Putin as his son-in-law Kirill Shamalov and close associate Gennady Timchenko are stakeholders of Sibur.

Response: According to Reuters, the Commerce Department in an emailed statement said Ross “was not involved in Navigator’s decision to engage in business with Sibur … has never met the Sibur shareholders referenced in this story and, until now, did not know of their relationship.”

Queen Elizabeth

Queen Elizabeth II

Place of Investment: Bermuda

Allegation: Millions of pounds from the private estate of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth have been invested in Bermuda’s Cayman Islands, the Paradise Papers said.

Around £10 million ($13 million, €11.3 million) of the Queen’s private money was invested in an array of businesses, including controversial rent-to-own retailer, BrightHouse, which has been accused of exploiting the poor, and a chain of alcohol stores which later went bankrupt.

Response: A spokeswoman for the Duchy of Lancaster (portfolio of land, property and assets held in trust for the Sovereign in His or Her role as Duke of Lancaster – the Queen is the owner of the estates) said, “All of our investments are fully audited and legitimate. We operate a number of investments and a few of these are with overseas funds.” The Queen voluntarily pays tax on any income she receives from the Duchy.” The spokeswoman noted that one of the fund investments represents only 0.3 percent of the total value of the Duchy.

Former Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz

Place of Investment: Bahamas

Allegation: Sixty-eight-year-old Shaukat Aziz, who was Pakistan’s prime minister from 2004 to 2007, created the Antarctic Trust, which was “constituted (in the US) for the benefit of the Settlor’s family,” which includes his wife, three children and a granddaughter. The trust does not appear in the financial disclosure statements Aziz submitted during his term in power.

Response: According to the ICIJ, Aziz’s lawyers have said that he was not legally required to declare the trust to Pakistani authorities. The same applied to the former premier’s wife and children, his lawyers said, adding Aziz paid all applicable US taxes.

Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s cousin Rami Makhlouf

Place of Investment: Lebanon

Allegation: Rami Makhlouf is the wealthiest man in the war-torn country was declared a shareholder in four Lebanese companies created between 2001 and 2003 by ICIJ.

Interestingly, the 29-year long occupation of Lebanon by Syrian military ended only in 2005, with Bashar al Assad entering his office in 2000.

Response: Yet to respond.

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen

Place of Investment: British Virgin Islands

Allegation: The sixty-four-year-old businessman found a place in the list for managing the yachts through a society in the islands. The yachts belong to his “Blazers” company that he bought for 70 million USD.

Response: Yet to respond.

Former Saudi Deputy Minister of Defence Prince Khaled bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz

Place of Investment: Bermuda

Allegation: According to the Papers, Prince Khaled bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz registered at least eight companies in Bermuda, some of which were used to own yachts and aircraft.

Response: Yet to respond.

Singer Madonna

Singer Madonna

Place of Investment: Bermuda

Allegation: The global pop icon was named on the list for her stakeholding in a medical supply company in the Bermuda island territory, which was registered in 1997 and dissolved in 2013.

Response: Yet to respond.

Brazilian Finance Minister Henrique de Campos Meirelles

Place of Investment: Bermuda

Allegation: The Sabedoria Foundation founded by Meirelles “specifically for charitable purposes” was active during Meirelles’ tenure as president of Brazil’s central bank, and had a bank balance of USD 9,030 in 2003 and USD 11,176 in 2008.

Response: ICIJ reported that Meirelles said the foundation is a charity set up to benefit Brazilian education after he dies and that he receives no benefit from it. “Therefore, this structure is not included in my Income Tax statements, as it should not be.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s chief fundraiser Stephen R Bronfman

Place of Investment: Bermuda

Allegation: Bronfman’s private-investment company “Claridge” has been allegedly helping the family of his godfather Leo Kolber to move millions of dollars offshore in order to evade paying taxes in the country.

Response: Bronfman’s response to ICIJ said, “None of the transactions or entities at issue were effected or established to evade or even avoid taxation” and that they “were always in full conformity with all applicable laws and requirements.”

Former Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama

Place of Investment: Bermuda

Allegation: Hatoyama was appointed honorary chairman and of Hoifu Energy Group Ltd., an oil and gas exploration and production company. His role was to use his “amicable relationship” with the energy industry in the United States, Japan, China and Africa for the uplift of the firm.

Response: A Japanese newspaper reported Yukio admitting his association with the company, but also adding that his title “has no meaning” since he is involved in none of the company’s business.

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