Pandora papers leak exposes offshore dealings of super rich: Here’s the first list of affluent Indians named
Branded the Pandora papers — the latest leak of offshore financial records of some of the world’s richest and most powerful people include the names of over 300 Indians. The global leak exposes offshore dealings and as many as 12 million documents from 14 companies in offshore tax havens with details of ownership of 29,000 offshore companies and Trusts. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which involved the BBC and The Guardian newspaper in the UK and The Indian Express in India among 150 media outlets in its investigation, claims it obtained the trove of more than 11.9 million confidential files to find secret financial dealings of many super-rich.
As per a report in The Indian Express, the Pandora papers leak is “a one-year investigation of data linked to India… reveals how individuals and businesses, many already under the scanner, are pushing the envelope to evade detection, using loopholes in the law at home and the lax jurisdiction of tax havens.” The report notes that while there are over 300-plus Indian names in the leaked data, the offshore holdings of as many as “60 prominent individuals and companies” will be revealed in the coming days.
The first list of Indian named that have been made public so far in the Pandora Papers leak are:
Reliance ADAG boss Anil Ambani: The Pandora Papers investigated by The Indian Express reveal that the chairman of Reliance ADA Group and his representatives own at least 18 offshore companies in Jersey, British Virgin Islands (BVI) and Cyprus. In February 2020, following a dispute with three Chinese state-controlled banks, Ambani declared bankruptcy in one UK court and said that his net worth was zero. The court then observed that “there are questions about the extent to which Ambani has any offshore interests, because if so they have not been declared”. And, three months later, Anil Ambani was ordered to pay $716 million to the banks, but he did not and denied having any asset in any entity across the globe.
Cricketer Sachin Tendulkar: ICIJ’s latest investigation also revealed the name of legendary cricketer and Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar among the celebrities named in the ‘Pandora Papers’ leak. As per The Indian Express report, Tendulkar along with members of his family, figures in the Pandora Papers as Beneficial Owners of an offshore entity in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) which was liquidated in 2016.
Sister of fugitive jeweler Nirav Modi: Before fugitive diamond jeweller Nirav Modi fled India in January 2018, his sister Purvi Modi reportedly set up a firm in the British Virgin Islands to act as a corporate protector of a trust formed through the Trident Trust Company, Singapore. The investigative reports show that the firm, Brookton Management Ltd, was set up in December 2017 to act as the corporate protector of The Deposit Trust.
Husband of Biocon founder Kiran Mazumder Shaw: John McCallum Marshall Shaw, a British citizen and the husband of Kiran Mazumder Shaw, promoter of Biocon, set up a trust with keys to a person who banned by Sebi for insider trading. In July 2021, SEBI had barred Kunal Ashok Kashyap for one year in a case related to alleged insider trading activities in the shares of Biocon. But the regulatory authorities were not aware that Kashyap was the ‘Protector’ of The Deanstone Trust, set up in New Zealand in July 2015 by Mauritius-based Glentec International, the ‘Settlor’. As per the reports of the Indian Express, Glentec, which holds shares of Biocon Ltd, is 99 per cent owned by John McCallum Marshall Shaw.
Bollywood actor Jackie Shroff: The Pandora papers have further revealed that popular Bollywood actor Jackie Shroff was the prime beneficiary of a trust set up in New Zealand by his mother-in-law. He also made “substantial contributions” to this trust, which had a Swiss bank account and owned an offshore company registered in the British Virgin Islands, records show.
The Pandora Papers are a follow-up to a similar project released in 2016 called the "Panama Papers” compiled by the same journalistic group. The latest bombshell is even more expansive, porting through nearly 3 terabytes of data the equivalent of roughly 750,000 photos on a smartphone leaked from 14 different service providers doing business in 38 different jurisdictions in the world. The records date back to the 1970s, but most of the files span from 1996 to 2020.
In contrast, the Panama Papers culled through 2.6 terabytes of data leaked by one now-defunct law firm called Mossack Fonseca that was located in the country that inspired that project’s nickname.