After Panama Papers comes Bahamas: Leak exposes 475 India-linked names with offshore accounts
The release of Bahamas papers comes days before the 30 September deadline of the Indian govt for individuals and corporates to declare their hidden wealth
New Delhi: A fresh expose on what is being termed as 'Bahamas Papers' has listed 475 India-related people, trusts and companies registered in the tax haven, including Vedanta Group's Anil Agarwal, erstwhile Baron Group's Kabir Mulchandani and Fashion TV India promoter Aman Gupta.
This has been revealed by The Indian Express, which says a new cache of documents is with German newspaper Suddeutche Zeitung, which has, in turn, shared it with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and its media partners, including the Indian paper.
The 475 India-related dossiers are part of over 175,000 global ones, said the paper. The leaks, nonetheless, do not necessarily indicate any illegality on part of the offshore holdings.
Non-resident Indians who are citizens of other countries do not violate Indian laws by holding such companies. Bahamas, a tax haven, is a group of 700 islands in the Atlantic Ocean north of Cuba.
Probe is on in the case of previous expose, which came to light following the leak of papers belonging to a Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca which helped in the setting up of offshore firms.
The release of fresh leaks comes days before the 30 September deadline of the Indian government for individuals and corporates to declare their hidden wealth and come clean by paying a 45-per cent penalty.
Anil Agarwal's name is linked with a trust in which he is named as a director. "Onclave PTC is a trust company, acting as a trustee of Agarwal's family trust. This information is disclosed to the income tax authorities," a spokesman is quoted as having told the newspaper.
Prasad and Prakash Nimmagadda, with interests in realty to pharmaceuticals, is another set of names. Prasad is already being probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation in another case, which had also arrested him in May 2012, and got bail 17 months later, the newspaper said.
"I would not like to discuss this issue over phone. We can meet personally and talk about it. I will tell you everything," Prasad has been quoted as telling The Indian Express. This was followed by calls by his office later cancelling a total of three appointments that had been fixed, The Indian Express said.
As regards Chandigarh-based Harbhajan Kaur and Gurjit Dhillon, mother-daughter duo linked to one Century Industries registered in the Bahamas, both denied any knowledge. Aman Gupta, chairman of a Finnish water brand, said he is an NRI and that the company in question was inactive.
In Rajan Madhu's case, — stated as the brother-in-law of pharma tycoon Gautam Thadani, licence holder for Fashion TV and the 'F' brand in India and a director in 15 companies — the Bahamas link is allegedly with Pollux Corporate Service. Madhu did not respond to the newspaper's queries.
Then there are Ganapati Rathinam, Shomik Prasanna Mukherjee, Prabir Harshad Talati and Nitin Vashdev Meran, all of whom declined any wrong-doing. Naresh Kumar Modi of New Delhi is mentioned as sole director of an offshore company, but he was out of station when the Indian daily visited him.
Myra Delores Rego of Mumbai and Ashok Chalwa of Delhi are linked with an American and a Brit. The former said the company she is linked with is dormant and that they merely used her name, while Chawla said he was framed, and that he was never a director in any offshore company.
Finally, the names of Sanjiv Kapoor, Jitendra P Patra and Sadat Rafiq Multani have been inter-linked, along with Dubai-based Kabir Mulchandani, who pioneered India's colour TV movement in the 1990s.
Kapoor said he was holding shares in the Bahamas company in a fiduciary capacity — corroborated by Munlchandani, while Multani denied owning any company in the Bahamas. The paper was silent on Patra's response, if he gave any.