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‘Paradise Paper’ : 714 Indian names crop up having offshore companies in tax heavens

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After Panama Paper leak, this new set of data contains 13.4 million document. Interestingly, Amitabh Bachchan’s name has come up in this investigation as well.

Eighteen months after the controversial Panama Paper leaks which exposed tax evasion by many influential individuals around the world, a new set of data has been released exposing more names. The two names which have cropped up in the entire investigation are Bermuda’s Appleby and Singapore’s Asiaciti, offshore law firms. These firms helped the rich and influential people around the world to move their money in 19 tax heavens.

The data named “Paradise Papers” contained cache of 13.4 million documents. A German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung obtained the data which was later investigated by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) working in partnership with 96 news organisations. In India, The Indian Express investigated these records

According to the Indian Express report, Bermuda law firm Appleby is a 119 year- old company which has global network of lawyers, accountants, bankers and other operatives.  These professionals help their clients to set up offshore companies. Through these companies, they avoid or evade taxes; manage real estate assets; open escrow accounts; purchase airplanes and yachts paying low tax rates; or, simply, use offshore vehicles to move millions across the globe.

Indian names in Paradise paper:

Individuals and corporations from 180 countries are listed in the data. In the data found, India ranks as high as 19th with 714 Indians in the tally. According to the report Indian company, Sun Group, is Appleby’s second-largest client internationally, with about 118 different offshore entities.

Many of the Indian clients of Appleby have time and again faced scrutiny from investigating agencies like the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

Following are the names which came up in the investigation:

  • Firms in the Sun-TV-Aircel-Maxis case; Essar-Loop 2G case;
  • SNC-Lavalin in which Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan was named, then cleared;
  • Ziquista Healthcare which was allegedly involved in Rajasthan ambulance scam (Sachin Pilot and Karti Chidambaram were early Honorary/Independent Directors of the firm respectively)
  • Congress Chief YS Jagan Mohan Reddy.

 

  • Amitabh Bachchan’s shareholding in a Bermuda company acquired before the 2004

 

  • Corporate lobbyist Niira Radia

 

  • Film star Sanjay Dutt’s wife who figures under her former name Dilnashin.

 

  • Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha’s name.

 

  • BJP Rajya Sabha MP and founder of Security and Intelligence Services (SIS) R K Sinha with records of offshore companies linked to him.

 

  •  Liquor baron Vijay Mallya, having millions of dollars-worth of loans taken by offshore companies of United Spirits Limited India were waived by Diageo (the company which finally acquired USL).

 

  • GMR Group which was raided last year by the Income Tax Department.

 

  • Other prominent Indian corporates which figure in the Appleby database include Jindal Steel, Apollo Tyres, Havells, Hindujas, Emaar MGF, Videocon, the Hiranandani Group and D S Construction.

Global names came up in the investigation:

  • Russian firm’s investments in Twitter and Facebook
  • Ties between Russia and US President Donald Trump’s billionaire commerce secretary Wilbur Ross
  • Secret dealings of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s chief fundraiser
  • Offshore interests of the Queen of England
  • More than 120 politicians, including former Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz.

 

National

Central government not in favour of slashing excise duty on fuel prices

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As mentioned by a senior official on Monday, the finance ministry is not in favour of cutting excise duty on fuel prices even though petrol prices hit a 55-month high in the national capital today at Rs 74.50 per litre, while diesel rates reached Rs 65.75. The finance ministry instead wants states to cut sales tax or Value Added Tax (VAT) on fuel, he added.

It must be mentioned that the government wants to reduce fiscal deficit to 3.3% of the GDP in the current fiscal from 3.5% of the last fiscal. “Excise duty cut would be a political call, but is not advisable if we have to stick to the fiscal deficit glide path outlined in Budget,” he said.

“Every rupee cut of excise on fuel will result in a loss of Rs 13,000 crore to the government,” the official said, adding that the oil ministry has not yet officially asked for a cut in fuel excise duty.

State-owned oil firms, which have been since June last year revising auto fuel prices daily, today raised petrol and diesel rates by 10 paise per litre each in Delhi, according to a price notification.

India has the highest retail prices of petrol and diesel among South Asian nations as taxes account for half of the pump rates.

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Madhya Pradesh, Puducherry and 3 Northeastern states to rollout intra-State e-way bill from April 25

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Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, and Meghalaya are the 3 northeastern states to join

The GST council on Monday announced the third phase of the e-way bill system for the intra-state transport of goods. From April 25 this system will be further applied in the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Sikkim, and Puducherry.

Till now the e-way bill system is applicable for intra-State transport in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Telangana, Tripura, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh.

The union government issued a release and said: “E-way bills are getting generated successfully and till 22nd April 2018, more than 1.84 crore e-way bills have been successfully generated which includes more than 22 lakh e-way bills for the intra-State movement of goods”.

“With the roll-out of e-way bill system in these States/union territory, it is expected that trade and industry will be further facilitated insofar as the transport of goods is concerned, thereby eventually paving the way for a nation-wide single e-waybill system,” the government further added.

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Home Ministry withdraws AFSPA from Meghalaya, eight police stations in Arunachal Pradesh

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NEW DELHI: The Union Home Ministry on Monday in its gazette notification has withdrawn the contentious Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 (AFSPA) from the state of Meghalaya as well as eight police stations in Arunachal Pradesh.

The ministry has issued a statement that AFSPA has been revoked from all parts of Meghalaya and has been reduced from 16 police stations to eight, with effect from March 31, 2018.

Till September 2017, 40 percent of Meghalaya was under AFSPA.

The Congress member of Parliament from Arunachal Pradesh Ninong Ering has been opposing the extension of the AFSPA in some parts of the state, saying it was “misused by the army”. Ering said that in the name of the Act, the army “harassed and tortured” villagers.

AFSPA is now applicable only to 8 police stations in Arunachal, down from 16 police stations in 2017. The Home Ministry has also enhanced the aid under the surrender-cum-rehabilitation policy for militants in the northeast from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 4 lakh. The policy will be applicable from April 1, 2018.

The government also relaxed the restricted area permit and protected area permit for foreigners visiting Manipur, Mizoram, and Nagaland. Restrictions, however, will remain for “countries of concern”, which include Pakistan, Afghanistan, and China.

The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act was enacted in 1958 to bring under control what the government of India considered ‘disturbed’ areas.

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