New Delhi. After the Panama Papers leak, Indian government faced another moment of big shame and embarrasment in the form of the Paradise Papers leak, the biggest ever exposure of nation’s who’s who including mega star Amitabh Bachchan along with many BJP and Congress leader who moved their money abroad. The disclosure comes two days before the NDA government marks the first anniversary of the demonetization drive on November 8, which the Centre will observe as Anti-Black Money Day.
Among the 180 countries represented in the data, India ranks 19th in terms of the number of names. In all, there are 714 Indians in the tally. The data shows that Amitabh Bachchan first became the stake holder in a Bermuda based media company after the first season of his TV show Kaun Banega Crorepati. As per the rules in 2004, before the RBI’s Liberalised Remittance Scheme was brought into being, RBI had to be intimated about the investment done abroad. It was however not yet clear whether Bachchan gave this information to RBI or not.
The Paradise Papers, a cache of 13.4 million documents obtained by German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and investigated by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in partnership with The Indian Express, reveals how two firms Bermuda’s Appleby and Singapore’s Asiaciti Trust help the global rich and powerful move their money abroad.
The leaked documents also show that US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross, the Trump administration’s point man on trade and manufacturing policy, has a stake in a firm that does business with a gas producer partly owned by the son-in-law of Russian l President Vladimir Putin.
According to records obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), Ross is an investor in Navigator Holdings, a shipping giant that counts Russian gas and petrochemical producer Sibur among its major customers. Putin’s son-in-law Kirill Shamalov once owned over 20% of the company, but now holds a much smaller stake.
The latest revelations come out of an investigation led by the ICIJ , which was provided data collected in an alleged hack in 2016 of Appleby Global Group Services, a Bermuda firm providing legal services for hedge fund managers and corporations.
The leak also revealed that millions of pounds from the private estate of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II have been invested in offshore tax haven funds.
Around £10 million ($13 million, EUR11.3 million) of the Queen’s private money was placed in funds held in the Cayman Islands and Bermuda, The investments, which were entirely legal, were made through the Duchy of Lancaster, which provides the monarch with an income and handles investments of her vast estate and remain current, the media outlets said.
There is no suggestion that the Queen’s private estate acted illegally or failed to pay any taxes due. But the leaks may raise questions over whether it is appropriate for the British head of state to invest in offshore tax havens.
Reporters working with the ICIJ, which was also behind the release of the Panama Papers, are reviewing the millions of pages of documents that reveal strategies used to hide assets and avoid taxes.
Among the individuals and companies expected to be cited in the articles are Glencore Inc and Yuri Miltner, an early backer of Facebook.
Appleby has said its data was breached and that it investigated issues raised by journalists and found no evidence of wrongdoing.