At least 714 Indians are named in documents leaked from two financial companies – Bermuda’s Appleby and Singapore’s Asiaciti – that help the rich and the powerful move their money abroad and invest it in 19 tax havens. The information was released by United States-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.
Ninety-six newspapers from across the world, including The Indian Express, on Monday began publishing stories based on the leaked financial data.
The documents – named the Paradise Papers – have not mentioned any evidence of illegality yet. Nand Lal Khemka’s Sun Group, Appleby’s second-largest client with 118 different offshore entities, was also mentioned in the list, The Indian Express reported. Jindal Steel, Apollo Tyres, Havells, Hindujas, Emaar MGF, Videocon, the Hiranandani Group and DS Construction are other major corporate names on the list. Several prominent companies under the scanner of the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate are also listed as Appleby’s clients.
These include firms named in the Sun-TV-Aircel-Maxis case, the Essar-Loop 2G case, the Rajasthan ambulance scam that is currently being investigated by the CBI. The investigating agency had named a company called Ziquista Healthcare, where Sachin Pilot and Karti Chidambaram were early honorary and independent directors.
Among the individuals named in the leak are actor Amitabh Bachchan, Union minister Jayant Sinha, Bharatiya Janata Party’s Rajya Sabha MP RK Sinha, and corporate lobbyist Niira Radia. Jayant Sinha’s name figures in the list because of his former role within the Omidyar Network.
The Paradise Papers also shared information about United States Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s business ties to a shipping company that is linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle, AFP reported. While there is no evidence that Ross acted illegally, the revelation raises questions over potential conflicts of interest and whether the ties potentially undermine US sanctions on Russia.
This cache of documents were obtained by German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. Most of the papers scrutinised are from Appleby, an 119-year-old company that helps its clients set up offshore companies and manage their bank accounts to help them either avoid or evade taxes, manage their real estate properties, open escrow accounts, or move millions across the globe, The Indian Express reported.