Paradise Papers leaked highlights: EU to discuss blacklisting tax havens; In India, multi-agency panel will probe those named

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Paradise Papers leaked highlights: EU to discuss blacklisting tax havens; In India, multi-agency panel will probe those named
  • 19:19 (IST)

    EU to discuss blacklist of tax havens after Paradise Papers leaks

    European Union finance ministers will on Tuesday discuss setting up a blacklist of worldwide tax havens, EU officials said. 

    The decision to include the subject in the monthly meeting’s agenda came after the publication over the weekend in several media of the so-called Paradise Papers, a trove of leaked financial documents mostly from law firm Appleby that exposed dealings with tax havens by top public figures.

    EU countries had planned for months to reach an agreement on a blacklist for tax havens by the end of this year and the new revelations prompted an earlier discussion on the subject, EU officials said. No final decision is however expected on Tuesday.

  • 19:02 (IST)

    Manyata Dutt denies wrong-doing

    Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt's wife, who is named among those in the 'Paradise Papers' for parking their wealth in secretive tax havens abroad, says that all her financial dealings are declared as per legal requirements.

    Her spokesperson said in a statement: "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."

  • 18:10 (IST)

    Russian politicians dismiss links to Facebook, Twitter, says Paradise Papers fantastic, phantasmagorical text

    Amid claims that Kremlin had indirect investments in US-based social media giants Facebook and Twitter, Russian politicians downplayed the reports, insisting the deals were legal and not politically motivated.

    The papers leaked from offshore law firm Appleby reveal that VTB Bank, Russia's second largest bank and now under US sanctions, funded an investment in Twitter. In addition, a branch of Gazprom energy giant through an offshore company financed an investment vehicle that owned Facebook shares.
    However, Russia said that the way this was presented in the papers was a "fantastic, phantasmagorical text" and were plainly "stirring emotions with muddled text." 

  • 18:02 (IST)

    Multi-agency group on Panama leak to probe Paradise Papers

    A multi-agency panel that also looked into the Panama Papers leaks by the International Consertium of Investigative Journalists will also look into the 'Paradise Papers' on financial holdings abroad that list a number of 714 Indian individuals and entities. 

    A multi-agency group (MAG) was formed last year in April, which comprised of officials from the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), the Income Tax Department, the Enforcement Directorate (ED), the Financial Intelligence Unit and the RBI among a few others. 

  • 17:44 (IST)

    Facebook, Twitter were partly funded with Russian money

    According to reports, two Russian state-owned firms funded substantial investments in Twitter and Facebook through a business associate of Jared Kushner. A Kremlin-backed bank and the financial arm of the state-owned oil and gas company Gazprom made large investments in the US based social media giants, through Yuri Milner, a Russian-American billionaire and Trump's son-in-law's aide. 

    Although, the Russian government appears to be a passive investor, the revelation comes amid growing scrutiny of how Kremlin may have influenced US presidential elections in 2016 using the social networks. 

  • 17:15 (IST)

    Meanwhile... double trouble for Karti Chidambaram

    Karti Chidambaram, who is already under ED and CBI scanner in INX Media case, was today named in the Paradise leaks. The investigation claimed that the former finance minister's son has undeclared offshore assets in tax havens. Also, back at home, Supreme Court declined to grant him relief in the INX Media case. 

  • 17:10 (IST)

    What are offshore companies?

    A company is any legal entity participating in business activities, such as a proprietorship, partnership, or corporation either public or private.

    Offshore is a term that means outside one’s own jurisdiction. Merely having an offshore business asset is not illegal in India, but its non-declaration is. Generally, offshore companies are set up with the sole aim of financial, legal and taxation benefits, which is why they are often incorporated in countries with relatively lower tax rates than the country in contention. 

  • 17:00 (IST)

    Congress dares Modi to put 'Paradise Papers' suspects in dock

    The Congress dared Prime Minister Narendra Modi to initiate action against the suspected Indian tax evaders who feature in the "Paradise Papers" leak, including one of his ministers, and put the entire facts before the Supreme Court bench overseeing black money investigations.

    Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said that Prime Minister Modi's "so-called" fight against black money and corruption remains a "complete flop" as it failed to take action in the Panama Papers leak where around 500 names emerged, including those of persons linked to the BJP.

  • 16:46 (IST)

    Appleby: The firm at the eye of Paradise Leaks storm

    An ICIJ investigation has suddenly brought into focus a Bermuda-headqaurtered firm  Appleby into focus. 

    According to the company website, the firm has about 470 staff. These include 60 partners. However, there are only 10 offices globally and the locations include Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, Jersey, Mauritius, the Seychelles, Hong Kong and Shanghai.

    It is interesting to note that the company has many clients in India though it has no offices in the country. According to The Indian Express, the company in the garb of a law firm, helps the rich and wealthy to avoid taxes, hide names and even supply directors for shell companies. 

    It claims to be one of the top offshore law firms, just like  Mossack Fonseca — the firm named in Panama Paper Leaks. 

  • 16:31 (IST)

    Trump's Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross rejects allegations

    Speaking to CNBC, United States Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross has rejected that he has any Russia links as was reported today after the Paradise Papers leak. 

    Ross claimed that he is neither a director nor an investor of any of the Russian companies named.

    The documents leaked by ICIJ todays claimed that even after becoming the Secretary of Commerce, Ross had retained investments in a shipping firm he once controlled that has business ties to a Russian oligarch subject to American sanctions and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law. 

    Ross also claimed that whatever relationship he had with these Russian-holding companies was known before and it hasn't just been revealed. 

  • 16:22 (IST)

    Merely holding offshore assets doesn't amount to corruption

    "Doing legitimate business in offshore secrecy jurisdictions like Bermuda is not illegal, but the Paradise Papers investigation is yet another example of how individuals and businesses—thanks to offshore law firms like Appleby and Estera—are systematically abusing the secrecy they provide," said Raymond Baker, president of Global Financial Integrity (GFI).

    SEBI officials also said that mere presence of any Indian entity in an offshore tax-friendly jurisdiction may not amount to violation of laws, but non-disclosure about such entities and routing of funds to them could be ascertained only after a thorough investigation. 

  • 16:06 (IST)

    Manyata Dutt also figures on list of 714 Indians named in Paradise Paper leaks 

    Dilnashin Dutt (aka Manyata Dutt), wife of film star Sanjay Dutt is also among the Indian names that figure in the leaked documents. 

    According to The Indian Express, some files from the Bahamas registry show that Nasjay Company Limited was set up in the Bahamas, and Dilnashin Sanjay Dutt was appointed its Director, Managing Director, President and Treasurer in April 2010. Apart from this, Manyata is on board of Sanjay Dutt Productions Pvt Limited, and  a range of other companies. 

  • 15:49 (IST)

    SEBI to step in to watch fund diversion after Paradise Leaks

    Markets regulator SEBI will look into alleged fund diversion and corporate governance lapses at various listed firms and their promoters, including those linked to Vijay Mallya, named in the leaked 'Paradise Papers'.
    While some entities linked to Mallya are already being probed by Sebi and other agencies, any fresh disclosure in the leaked documents made public by International Consortium of Investigative Journalists would be thoroughly looked into, senior officials said.
    The disclosures about other listed firms and those associated with them or their promoters would also be looked into for any irregularities including about corporate governance and disclosure norms, the officials added. 

  • 15:36 (IST)

    'Paradise Papers' reveal Trump commerce secretary Wilbur Ross' Russia ties

    The Paradise Paper Leaks have shown that US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Donald Trump's point man on trade and manufacturing policy, has a stake in a company that does business with a firm partly owned by the son-in-law of Russian President Vladimir Putin, a report in Business Insider claimed. 

  • 15:31 (IST)

    Congress demands high-level probe in Jayant Sinha's offshore assets, says MoS' non-disclosure amounts to electoral offence

  • 15:08 (IST)

    Coaching giant FITJEE too named in Paradise Papers Leaks

    According to the files leaked from Appleby records, Mauritius-based QLearn, a subsidiary of Qatar’s Qinvest, sold 19,52,907 shares of Indian coaching class giant FIITJEE for over  Rs 36 crore to Mumbai-based Ambit Group in July 2015. 

    Since Qinvest has substantial stakes in Ambit, the transaction would amount to sale of the shares between it's own companies, reported The Indian Express

  • 14:47 (IST)

    From politicos to corporate to the Royalty, Paradise Paper leak scorches many

    The Paradise Paper leaks, which named 714 Indians with suspiious offshore investments, also revealed that a sizeable amount of the Britain's Queen's private estate has been invested in a Cayman Islands fund as part of an offshore portfolio, The Guardian reported. 

    Million's of pounds of the Queen's assets were invested into an array of businesses — through the Duchy of Lancaster — including the off-licence chain Threshers, and the retailer BrightHouse, which has been criticised for exploiting thousands of poor families and vulnerable people, the newspaper reported. 

    The Duchy of Lancaster, however, said that they were not aware of its "neglegible" 12-year investment in BrightHouse until approached by The Guardian and other media houses to comment on the leaks.  

  • 14:36 (IST)

    Karti Chidambaram's name crops up in Paradise Papers, amid ongoing ED probe

    Troubles for former finance minister's son Karti Chidambaram do not seem to ending soon. Even as the CBI and ED are conducting a probe against him in the INX media case, his name has cropped up in the Paradise Papers leak detailing the documents of corporate data with several offshore companies. The investigation was conducted by The Indian Express in partenership with International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

  • Paradise Papers make good headlines, but what did we do with Panama, HSBC lists?

    The Paradise Papers leak comes at a time when India has intensified its scrutiny on tax cheats. 

    According to government data, the Modi-government has struck off around 2.24 lakh companies for being inactive for a period of two years or more and has put restrictions on the operation of their bank accounts and sale of movable and immovable properties until they are restored.  The government, citing a preliminary investigation of 58,000 bank accounts of 35,000 companies, has also said over Rs 17,000 crore was deposited and withdrawn post-demonetisation in these accounts.

    This is certainly a progress made in the fight against black money but only a drop in the ocean of unaccounted wealth estimated to be lying under the carpet in this country. 

    But for India, the bigger target is foreign black money. Domestic black money is only a fraction compared with what is at stake in foreign tax havens.

    Read the entire article here

  • 14:11 (IST)

    Story so far: Paradise Papers Leak

    - International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), in partnership with 96 news organisations revealed first in a series of investigative reports titled what is being called as the 'Paradise Papers'.

    - The news organisations will put out a list of Indian and foreign companies and individuals -- 714 in all -- who have stashed money in tax havens through offshore entities.

    - Big political names who have been mentioned with exposes over secret dealings of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's chief fund-raiser, reports of Queen Elizabeth's investments and activities of former Pakistan PM Shaukat Aziz, among 120 other politicians.

    - India ranks 19th in terms of the number of names, out of the 180 countries whose names come up in the Paradise Papers.

    - A bulk of the records investigated are from Bermuda law firm Appleby, which is at the center of the expose.

  • 14:08 (IST)

    Americans dominate list of clients

    Americans companies and citizens dominate the list of Appleby’s clients. India, as mentioned earlier, is 19th on the list.

  • 13:59 (IST)

    GMR group under scanner

    Appleby's data also includes thousands of documents on Delhi-based GMR Group, reports said. The Income Tax Department had raided the group last year and had uncovered an attempt of avoid tax via a network of 28 offshore entities which were setup by Appleby.

  • 13:54 (IST)

    Niira Radia shows up in Paradise Paper leaks too

    According to this report in The Indian Expresscorporate lobbyist Nira Radia, who was at the centre of a storm in 2010 over alleged lobbying for ministerial appointments, was part of two offshore companies in Malta.

  • 13:44 (IST)

    After Nawaz Sharif, former Pakistan PM Shaukat Aziz linked to offshore accounts

    Former Pakistan prime minister Shaukat Aziz figures in a new trove of data leaks on offshore dealings, about 18 months after the Panama Papers listed Nawaz Sharif for graft and money laundering charges that cost him his premiership.

    Aziz, 68, served as Pakistan's prime minister from 2004 to 2007.

    The Express Tribune reported that Aziz is linked with Antarctic Trust, which was set up by him, and includes his wife, children and granddaughter as beneficiaries.

    Aziz had set up the trust in the US state of Delaware before becoming finance minister in 1999. He was working for financial giant Citibank at the time. The trust was not declared at any point during his stint as the finance minister or the prime minister.

  • 13:34 (IST)

    Jayant Sinha's explanation: In tweets

    In a series of tweets, MoS Jayant Sinha tweeted out saying that the transactions were "legal" and "bonafide" and "undertaken on behalf of highly reputed world-leading organisations."

    “Full details have been provided to Indian Express. These were bonafide and legal transactions 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. All these transactions have been fully disclosed to relevant authorities through all necessary filings as required. After leaving Omidyar Network, I was asked to continue on the D.Light Board as an Independent Director. On joining the Union Council of Ministers, I immediately resigned from the D.Light Board and severed my involvement with the company. It is crucial to note that these transactions were done for D.Light as an Omidyar representative, and not for any personal purpose.”

  • 13:26 (IST)

    With 714 Indian names on the list, India ranks 19th in world

    India ranks 19th in terms of number of names on the list. As many as 714 Indians are on the list with Appleby's second-largest client said to be an Indian entity.

  • 13:21 (IST)

    The Rajasthan connect: Firm registered by Appleby Mauritius had invested in Indian firm 

    Here is some more information on the India connect. The Indian Express reports that a company registered by Appleby Mauritius had invested in an Indian firm that is at the centre of an investigation by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate in connection with the Rajasthan Ambulance “scam”.

    One of the founders of the firm is the son of Congress leader and former Union minister for Overseas Affairs Vayalar Ravi.

    A police complaint had earlier named former Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot, former finance minister P Chidambaram's son Karti, and former Union minister Sachin Pilot.

  • 12:55 (IST)

    Rajya Sabha member Amar Singh tweets about the Paradise Papers

  • 12:53 (IST)

    Bermudian firm named Appleby at centre of controversy

    According to MoneyControl, Appleby is 119-year-old company and 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 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.

  • 12:44 (IST)

    U2 frontman Bono also named in Paradise Papers

    Bono used a company based in Malta to pay for a share in a shopping centre in a small town in north-east Lithuania, according to The Guardian.

    The singer was an investor in the Maltese company Nude Estates, which bought the Aušra mall – named after the Lithuanian word for dawn – for £5.1 million shortly after it opened in 2007.

  • 12:40 (IST)

    World's second biggest data leak in terms of volume

    In terms of volume, Paradise Papers is the world's second biggest data leak, reports MoneyControl

    Panama Papers - 2.6 TB

    Paradise Papers - 1.4 TB

    Offshore secrets - 260 GB

    Luxembourg tax files - 4.4 GB

    HSBC files - 3.3 GB

    WikiLeaks - 1.7GB

  • 12:37 (IST)

    US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross, UK's Queen Elizabeth II also named in Paradise Papers

    US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross has business ties to a shipping firm linked to Vladimir Putin's inner circle, according to a vast leak of financial documents that also revealed Britain's Queen Elizabeth II's investments in tax havens.

    There is no suggestion that Ross, Bronfman or the queen's private estate acted illegally. However, Ross's ties to Russian entities raise questions over potential conflicts of interest, and whether they undermine Washington's sanctions on Moscow.

  • 12:32 (IST)

    Dip in stock prices

    Shares of various firms, led by Jindal Steel, on Monday fell by up to 2.3 per cent amid reports that their names have cropped up in the leaked list of Paradise Papers' of companies.

    The scrip of Jindal Steel & Power went down by 2.32 percent, Essar Shipping lost 2 per cent and Videocon Industries fell by 1.82 percent on BSE.

  • 12:23 (IST)

    Jayant Sinha was MD of Omidyar Network: Report

    According to the report in The Indian Express, Jayant Sinha was the managing director of Omidyar Network when the company invested in a US company D-Light Design, which has a subsidiary in Cayman Islands in the Caribbean Sea. That was before he became a Lok Sabha MP.

    The India Express report says he has not mentioned that he was a director of D-Light Design in his declarations to the Election Commission.

  • 12:21 (IST)

    Jayant Sinha, Vijay Mallya, Amitabh Bachchan in list of prominent people who had invested in tax havens

    The list has about 714 Indians, including names of several BJP and Congress leaders. Paradise Papers are a huge set of documents - 13.4 million to  be exact - that German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung gained access to. These were investigated by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) of which The Indian Express is a part (Read about it here).

    The prominent Indians named include minister of state for aviation Jayant Sinha, fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya, cine star Amitabh Bachchan, Congress's Sachin Pilot, Karti Chidambaram and Ravi Krishna (son of former union minister Vayalar Ravi).

A huge new leak of financial documents has revealed how the powerful and ultra-wealthy, including Britain's Queen Elizabeth II's private estate, secretly invest vast amounts of cash in offshore tax havens, media reports said on Monday.

The details come from a leak of 13.4 million files on Sunday that expose the global environments in which tax abuses can thrive - and the complex and seemingly artificial ways the wealthiest corporations can legally protect their wealth.

The material, which has come from two offshore service providers and the company registries of 19 tax havens, was obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) with 100 other media organisations including The Guardian, the BBC and The New York Times.

 Paradise Papers leaked highlights: EU to discuss blacklisting tax havens; In India, multi-agency panel will probe those named

A file image of Jayant Sinha. Image: News18

Some of the revelations in the Paradise Papers include millions of pounds from Queen Elizabeth II's private estate that has been invested in a Cayman Islands fund and some of her money that went to a retailer accused of exploiting poor families and vulnerable people.

It details extensive offshore dealings by US President Donald Trump's cabinet members, advisers and donors, including substantial payments from a firm co-owned by Russian President Vladimir Putin's son-in-law to the shipping group of the US Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross.

The leak shows how social media giants Twitter and Facebook received millions in investments that can be traced back to Russian state financial institutions along with ggressive tax avoidance by multinational corporations, including Nike and Apple.

It also includes information about a tax-avoiding Cayman Islands trust managed by the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's chief wealth manager.

The leak also includes how some of the biggest names in the film and TV industries protect their wealth with an array of offshore schemes and the complex offshore webs used by two Russian billionaires to buy stakes in Arsenal and Everton football clubs.

The disclosures will put pressure on world leaders, including Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May, who have both pledged to curb aggressive tax avoidance schemes.

The publication of this investigation, for which more than 380 journalists have spent a year combing through data that stretches back 70 years, comes at a time of growing global income inequality.

Offshore finance is about a place outside of one's own nation's regulations to which companies or individuals can reroute money, assets or profits to take advantage of lower taxes, reports the BBC.

These jurisdictions are known as tax havens to the layman, or the more stately offshore financial centres (OFCs) to the industry. They are generally stable, secretive and reliable, often small islands but not exclusively so, and can vary on how rigorously they carry out checks on wrongdoing.

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Updated Date: Nov 07, 2017 11:15:30 IST