A year after sensational Panama Papers leak, another huge new leak, dubbed as Paradise Papers leak of financial documents has revealed how the powerful and ultra-wealthy, including the Queen Elizabeth of Britain and many Indian coporates have secretly invested vast amounts of cash in offshore tax havens.
Donald Trump’s commerce secretary is also shown to have a stake in a firm dealing with Russians sanctioned by the US.
The revelations on the Indians’ names also come just two days before the Centre’s Narendra Modi government has decided to commemorate anti-black money day while marking the one year of demonetisation.
The leak, dubbed the Paradise Papers, contains 13.4m documents, mostly from one leading firm in offshore finance.
BBC Panorama is part of nearly 100 media groups investigating the papers, reported BBC.
As with last year’s Panama Papers leak, the documents were obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, which called in the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) to oversee the investigation. The Guardian is also among the organisations investigating the documents.
Among the 180 countries represented in the data, India ranks 19th in terms of the number of names, reported The Indian Express. In all, there are 714 Indians in the tally. Interestingly, it’s 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.
A bulk of the records investigated are from Bermuda law firm Appleby. Although not a tax advisor, this 119-year-old company is a leading member of the global network of lawyers, accountants, bankers and other operatives who set up offshore companies and manage bank accounts for clients to do one or a combination of the following: avoid or evade taxes; manage real estate assets; open escrow accounts; purchase airplanes and yachts paying low tax rates; or, simply, use offshore vehicles to move millions across the globe.
Besides corporates, 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. Records of offshore companies linked to BJP Rajya Sabha MP and founder of Security and Intelligence Services (SIS) R K Sinha appear in the Malta list.
In Panama Papers leak, several Indians’ names including Amitabh Bachchan and Ajay Devgn had surfaced, but no investigation was ever carried out by the Indian government. In Pakistan, however, the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had to lose his job after his name surfaced in Panama Papers leak.