Tax haven links: NMC contractor too figures in leaked Paradise Papers

RK Sinha
Nagpur: As more than 700 Indian names tumbled out for tax haven links following leaked Paradise Papers, Nagpur Municipal Corporation too found itself in the dubious list. BJP Rajya Sabha MP R K Sinha, whose name figured prominently in the leaked Paradise Papers among others, is running a contract awarded by the NMC. Sinha’s company, named SIS, is currently “supplying” a number of conductors in the NMC-run Aapli Bus. The office of SIS is situated in Shankar Nagar.

According to sources, more than 2.50 lakh employees have been connected with this SIS Company run by the BJP Rajya Sabha MP R K Sinha whose name tumbled out for tax haven links following leaked Paradise Papers.

Notably, more than 700 Indian names, including those of politicians, corporates and celebrities, figured in the leaked Paradise Papers detailing business dealings of “the world’s most powerful people and companies” in offshore tax havens. Regulatory and enforcement agencies swung into action by promising a multi-regulatory probe soon after the names started tumbling out as part of the latest global expose by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), even as several of those named denied any wrongdoing.

The Indian names include Bollywood starAmitabh Bachchan, defaulter businessman Vijay Mallya, corporate lobbyist Niira Radia, film star Sanjay Dutts wife Dilnashin, Union Minister Jayant Sinha and the BJP Rajya Sabha MP R K Sinha.

The ICIJ, which worked with 95 media partners globally for the investigation, said it explored 13.4 million leaked files from offshore law firms, majorly Bermuda-based Appleby, and company registries in several secretive tax jurisdictions. Among the 180 countries represented in the data, India ranked 19th in terms of number of names (714), while Sun Group, founded by Nand Lal Khemka, figured as Applebys second largest client with as many as 118 offshore entities.

The ICIJ said the Paradise Papers reveal the offshore activities of some of the worlds most powerful people and companies and the files were obtained by the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung.
It, however, put out a disclaimer that “there are legitimate uses for offshore companies and trusts” and it does not “intend to suggest or imply that any people, companies or other entities included in the ICIJ Offshore Leaks Database have broken the law or otherwise acted improperly”.

ICIJ also said that many people and entities may have similar names and suggested that the identities of those named in the database should be confirmed based on addresses or other identifiable information.

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.