A year after the Panama Papers, a new set of data taken from another offshore law firm, Appleby, could expose the hidden wealth of individuals, including Indians, and show how corporations, hedge funds and others may have skirted taxes.
Among the 180 countries represented in the data (being dubbed Paradise Papers), India ranks 19th in terms of the number of names, a report on Indian Express website said.
In all, there are 714 Indians in the tally, it reported. Interestingly, an Indian firm figures as Appleby’s second-largest client globally, with at least 118 different offshore entities, it said.
These include firms in the Sun-TV-Aircel-Maxis case; Essar-Loop 2G case; SNC-Lavalin in which Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan was named, then cleared; the Rajasthan ambulance scam which has recently been routed to the CBI and which names a company called Ziquista Healthcare (Sachin Pilot and Karti Chidambaram were early Honorary/Independent Directors of the firm respectively); and fresh financial links in a CBI case against YSR Congress Chief YS Jagan Mohan Reddy
In the case of one set of companies implicated in the 2G spectrum allocation case, for instance, even the top secret Letters Rogatory sent by the CBI reach Appleby. 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.
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 finally 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.