India ranks 19th on Paradise Papers list with 714 names

06 November 2017

Of the 180 countries represented in the Paradise Papers (See: Paradise Papers: tax avoidance by the world's rich and famous) data, India ranks 19th in terms the number of entities named. In all, there are 714 Indians in the tally.

It is an Indian company, Sun Group, founded by Nand Lal Khemka, that figures as Appleby's second-largest client internationally, with as many as 118 different offshore entities.

Several of the Indian firms on the list are under investigation by agencies like the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate.

These include firms in the Sun-TV-Aircel-Maxis case; the Essar-Loop 2G case; the SNC-Lavalin case in which Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan was named, then cleared; the Rajasthan ambulance scam which has recently been handed over to the CBI and which names a company called Ziquista Healthcare (Congress leaders Sachin Pilot and Karti Chidambaram were early honorary / independent Directors of the firm); and fresh financial links in a CBI case against YSR Congress Chief Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy.

In the case of one set of companies implicated in the 2G spectrum allocation case, even the top secret Letters Rogatory sent by the CBI reached Appleby.

Besides companies, the data reveals details of individuals as well: Amitabh Bachchan's shareholding in a Bermuda company acquired before the 2004 Liberalised Remittance Scheme kicked in; corporate lobbyist Niira Radia, and film star Sanjay Dutt's wife who figures under her former name Dilnashin.

Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha's name figures in the records because of his past association with the Omidyar Network.

In a series of tweets, Sinha has claimed that the transactions were "legal" and "bona fide" and "undertaken on behalf of highly reputed world-leading organisations".

Records of offshore companies linked to BJP Rajya Sabha MP and founder of Security and Intelligence Services (SIS) R K Sinha also appear in the list.

At a time when the CBI is making an all-out effort to extradite liquor baron and aviation czar Vijay Mallya, Appleby's documents show how millions of dollars worth of loans taken by offshore companies of United Spirits Limited India were waived by Diageo, the company which acquired USL.

Then there are thousands of documents on the GMR Group, raided last year by the Income Tax Department, which uncover an alleged attempt of tax avoidance via a network of 28 offshore entities set up by Appleby. Other prominent Indian corporates which figure in the Appleby database include Jindal Steel, Apollo Tyres, Havells, Hindujas, Emaar MGF, Videocon, the Hiranandani Group and D S Construction.

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