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Paradise Papers: Amitabh Bachchan, Niira Radia Among Indians Linked To Tax Havens

One of the biggest data leaks in history.

06/11/2017 12:09 PM IST | Updated 06/11/2017 2:34 PM IST
PUNIT PARANJPE via Getty Images

The massive document leak known as Paradise Papers reveals that 714 Indians are linked to tax havens including Bollywood veteran Amitabh Bachchan, corporate lobbyist Niira Radia, liquor baron and fugitive Vijay Mallya, Union Minister Jayant Sinha and Sanjay Dutt's wife Manyata.

India ranks 19 among 180 countries in the number of names in the list.

The Indian Express reported today that Bachchan, whose name also appeared in the Panama Papers leak in 2016, became a shareholder of a digital media company incorporated in Bermuda in 2002, one year after he hosted the first season of the TV show Kaun Banega Crorepati.

The newspaper noted that it was unclear if Bachchan had reported his shareholding in the Bermuda-based Jalva Media Ltd to the Reserve Bank of India (as required by Indian law at the time).

In 2005, a notice published in The Bermuda Sun described the company as a "bad debtor" which stands "dissolved."

Over 13 million files revealed on Sunday, the bulk from two centuries-old Bermuda-based law firm Appleby, contain details of the offshore holdings of top politicians, celebrities and corporations. The documents were obtained by German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and investigated by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in collaboration with 96 media organizations.

The data reveals that Britain's Queen Elizabeth II has $13 million of her private money invested in off shore funds based in the Cayman Islands and Bermuda.

The documents also reveal that US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has business ties to a shipping firm linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin's son-in-law Kirill Shamalov.

Another notable finding in the Paradise Papers is about Stephen Bronfman, the top fund raiser and senior advisor to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Brofman, according to the documents, was involved in moving millions of dollars to offshore tax havens.

Among the Indians, the Paradise Papers also names corporate lobbyist Niira Radia who was at the centre of the Radia Tapes media scandal in 2010.

The Indian Express reported today that Radia was part of two offshore companies based in Malta. She was director of the Suez La Vallette Limited in April 2012 and the Pegasus International Advisors Limited in August 2011.

Radia was "removed" from Suez La Vallette Limited in August 2014 and "resigned" in February 2014 from Pegasus International Advisors Limited, the newspaper reported.

Union Minister Jayant Sinha features in the Paradise Papers because he was the managing director of Omidyar Network, which invested in D. Light, a US company that has a subsidiary in the Cayman Islands.

Sinha, who resigned from the company in 2013, was elected to parliament in 2014. In a series of tweets today, the minister responded to being listed in the Paradise Papers.

"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," the minister said, adding, "It is crucial to note that these transactions were done for D.Light as an Omidyar representative, and not for any personal purpose."

Manyata, Sanjay Dutt's wife, also appears in the Paradise Papers under her former name Dilnashin. The Indian Express reported that she is the director Nasjay Company Limited, set up in the Bahamas in April 2010.

Her spokesperson told the newspaper, "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."

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