PANAMA SCANDAL: 500 Indians including celebs in list of secret firms using offshore tax havens
The internet has been abuzz with the recent revelations from a massive document leak that sheds light on the offshore financial activities of world leaders, celebrities, athletes and other public figures.
Now, names of actors Amitabh Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, real estate tycoon KP Singh and late gangster Iqbal Mirchi – who once ranked among the world's top 50 drug lords have been listed in the Panama scandal.
It's been claimed that while Aishwarya Rai was a shareholder of a firm in the British Virgin Islands, her father-in-law – superstar Amitabh Bachchan – was the director of four shipping companies in the Bahamas. It said Indiabulls owner Sameer Gahlaut acquired “three top London properties” via “entities” in the Bahamas and Jersey, and DLF promoter KP Singh and his family owned firms in the British Virgin Islands.
A study of more than 11 million documents from the secret files of Mossack Fonseca, the Panama law firm, showed that Indians possibly violated tax rules or masked ownership of firms they allegedly set up abroad.
The promoters of Apollo Tyres, business tycoon Gautam Adani’s elder brother Vinod Adani, West Bengal politician Shishir Bajoria and former Loksatta Party leader Anurag Kejriwal were some other Indians named in the newspaper report.
Until 2003, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) norms did not allow an Indian citizen to set up an overseas entity. In 2004, resident Indians were allowed to remit funds of up to $25,000 a year under the Liberalised Remittance Scheme (LRS) – the limit of which stands at $250,000 a year now.
It’s been claimed that where RBI let individuals buy shares under LRS, it never permitted them to set up companies abroad. The Mossack Fonseca documents allegedly show companies were set up long before the rules were changed, and the purpose may have been to park foreign exchange in a tax haven.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalism, a non-profit organisation based in Washington, said the cache of 11.5 million records detailed the offshore holdings of a dozen present and former world leaders, besides businessmen, criminals, celebrities and sports stars. Political figures from Iceland, Ukraine, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Argentina were named in the reports.
The revalations of the tax scandal came through an investigation conducted by an international coalition of media outlets into the offshore financial dealings of the rich and famous, based on a vast trove of documents provided by an anonymous source. The report has seen 370 journalists from nearly 80 countries collaborating their efforts on the expose.
The leaked list includes documents showing how the rich, famous and powerful use tax havens to hide their wealth. There are links to 12 current or former heads of state and government in the data, including dictators accused of stealing from their own countries.
More than 60 relatives and associates of heads of state and other politicians are also implicated with suspected billion-dollar money laundering ring involving close associates of Russia's President, Vladimir Putin.