Mumbai: About 12 million documents that reveal tax avoidance, privy wealth and in some cases even money laundering by some of the world’s richest and powerful have been leaked which is called ‘The Pandora papers’.
More than 600 journalists in 117 countries have been trawling through the files from 14 sources for months, finding stories that are being published this week.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists obtained 11.9 million confidential documents from 14 separate legal and financial services firms, which the group said offered “a sweeping look at an industry that helps the world’s ultrawealthy, powerful government officials and other elites conceal trillions of dollars from tax authorities, prosecutors and others.”
The files expose how some of the most powerful people in the world – including more than 330 politicians from 90 countries – use secret offshore companies to hide their wealth.
Moving money through offshore accounts, in mostly low-tax jurisdictions, is legal in most countries, and many of the people named in the data release aren’t accused of criminal wrongdoing. But the journalist group said the 2.94 terabytes of financial and legal data — which makes this leak larger than the 2016 Panama papers release — shows the “offshore money machine operates in every corner of the planet, including the world’s largest democracies,” and involves some of the world’s most well-known banks and legal firms.
Anil Ambani with 18 offshore companies claims poverty
Anil Ambani who declared himself bankrupt has 18 companies offshore, an offshore company is a legal entity incorporated in a jurisdiction outside of the investors’ home country. His companies are located in Jersey, British Virgin Islands and Cyprus.
Set up between 2007 and 2010, seven of these companies have borrowed and invested at least $1.3 billion.
The UK court had observed that “there are questions about the extent to which Mr Ambani has any offshore interests, because if so they have not been declared”. Three months after the court hearing, Anil Ambani was ordered to pay $716 million to three Chinese banks. But he did not, and denied having any asset or worthwhile beneficial interest in any entity worldwide.
Bollywood actors under Pandora lens
Bollywood actor Jackie Shroff has reportedly been named as the ‘prime beneficiary’ of a trust that was set up by wife, Ayesha Shroff’s mother, Claudia Dutt in New Zealand. The report states that Ayesha’s mother formed the Media Trust, registered with London Fiduciary Trust Company Limited (LFTC) in New Zealand on November 29, 2005. Eight years later, the trust was reportedly terminated.
According to the memorandum, Jackie and Ayesha’s two children – Jai Shroff (Tiger Shroff) and Krishna Shroff were the other beneficiaries.
Sachin Tendulkar named in papers
Sachin Tendulkar, his wife Anjali Tendulkar and father-in-law Anand Mehta were the beneficial owners of an offshore company in the British Virgin Islands.
As per the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) report, it has been learned that Tendulkar’s attorney has claimed that the former cricketer’s investment is legitimate. Tendulkar’s attorney said the cricket player’s investment is legitimate and has been declared to tax authorities.
The Pandora Papers also named a veteran Congress leader, former minister and friend of the Gandhi family, Satish Sharma.
At least 10 of Sharma’s family members, including his wife, children and grandchildren are among the beneficiaries of the Jan Zegers Trust — a declaration the late politician never made to the country’s election commission when he was filing his nomination papers, The Indian Express reported.
The Jan Zegers Trust was established in the Cayman Islands in 1995 when Sharma was the minister of petroleum and natural gas, according to the report. A second trust — JZ II Trust — was set up in 2015 when Sharma was a member of the Indian parliament.
Pakistan’s PM Imran Khan’s cabinet members included
The Pandora Papers has revealed names of 700 Pakistani individuals and members of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s cabinet, inner circle, including cabinet ministers, their families and major financial backers, who have secretly owned an array of companies and trusts holding millions of dollars of hidden wealth, according to ICIJ.