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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.

 

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Water in Maharashtra dams rises by 25 percent between July 9-16

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Maharashtra Dam

Mumbai | Heavy rains over the past few days has increased the water stock in Maharashtra’s dams by almost 25 percent from 643.64 thousand million cubic feet (TMC) on July 9 to 804.34 TMC on July 16, state government data has revealed.

This rise between July 9-16, of 160.7 TMC, constitutes about 10 percent of the total storage capacity of the state’s dams which is 1720.09 TMC, an official said.

A state Water Resources official said that divisions such as Amravati, Pune and Nagpur had received excess rainfall while regions like Konkan and Nashik had received less rainfall, till July 16, when compared to the same period last year. Replying to a query on the Konkan belt traditionally receiving the highest amount of rainfall, the official said that the region saw less rains in June this year.

Lack of rains in June meant that the region was still short of the rainfall it had received in the same time last year, he informed. By July 16 last year, the Konkan region had 74.22 percent of its annual rainfall while this year it stood at only 67.27 percent, he said.

“The cyclonic circulation over Maharashtra has brought good rains but the precipitation has increased recently (in the Konkan region),” the official said. The official said Nashik region had only received 26.44 percent of its yearly average by July 16 this year compared to 32.47 percent in 2017.

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World Bank panel to decide in 9 months if probe is needed on Andra Pradesh capital

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Andhra Pradesh

Hyderabad | A World Bank panel has said it would decide after nine months whether or not an investigation is required into the allegations of possible threat to livelihoods and environment among others with regard to the construction of capital Amaravati.

The Centre and Andhra Pradesh government have requested the World Bank to finance select infrastructure works in Amaravati, the proposed new capital of the state and the Bank is preparing a loan of USD 300 million for the proposed project, to be co-financed by the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

Some people residing in the vicinity of Amaravati had written to the World Bank’s inspection panel on May 25 2017 alleging harm to their livelihoods, environment, food security and resettlement due to the bank’s non-compliance with its environmental and social standards in the preparation of the project.

“Considering the foregoing and taking into account paragraph 5 of the 1999 Clarifications 5, the Panel is recommending a second deferral of its recommendation and will report back to the Board after nine months or when Bank Management authorises the appraisal of the proposed Project, whichever arises earlier.”

“At that time, the Panel will make a recommendation as to whether an investigation into the Bank’s actions or omissions is warranted.

If the Board of Executive Directors concurs with the foregoing, the Inspection Panel will advise the requesters and Management accordingly,” the Inspection Panel said in its report submitted to the World Bank Board which approved the recommendation on July 13.

The Panel in September last year visited Amaravti to look into the complaints it received from some of the ‘farmers’ who alleged that they were forced to part their land and claimed harm from a land pooling scheme being used to assemble the land required for the city, as well as from other project activities.

On September 27, 2017, the panel submitted its Report and Recommendation to the World Bank Board of Executive Directors that recommended “carrying out an investigation into the alleged issues of harm and related potential non-compliance with Bank policies, especially relating to involuntary resettlement.”

However, in December 2017, the panel deferred its decision on whether a probe is warranted by 6 months after the bank management submitted an addendum offering clarifications.

The addendum also contained update on project preparation and additional actions to “complement and clarify” the actions presented in its July 21, 2017, response in order to fully address the Requesters’ concerns.

The proposed Amaravati Sustainable Capital City Development Project (ASCCDP) is expected to fund a 145-km priority road-grid and key flood mitigation works in the area.

The ASCCDP will support wider and equitable sharing of benefits from the development of the new city with a range of stakeholders, especially vulnerable groups and women.

It will also upgrade infrastructure in some of the 24 villages of the region to help integrate them into the capital area.

The proposed Project will also finance a program of support aimed at helping set up robust urban governance institutions for the new capital city.

“The Inspection Panel’s mandate is to examine the World Bank’s compliance with its own policies, and not the activities of the borrowing government.

There is no time limit for an investigation which can take several months. Project activities are however not halted by an investigation,” a World Bank official had earlier told PTI.

The Andhra Pradesh government has so far pooled over 33,000 acres from farmers for construction of the new capital under different categories of agreements.

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Two dead, 3,500 relocated as rains lash parts of Gujarat

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Gujarat Floods

Rajkot/Ahmedabad | Two persons, including a schoolboy, drowned as incessant rains lashed Saurashtra and south Gujarat regions, with Gir Somnath being among the worst-affected districts in the state, officials said today.

According to the officials, 3,500 people have been shifted to safer places in different districts of the state.

Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, who flew to Gir Somnath from Gandhinagar to hold a review meeting with district officials, was forced to return as the helicopter could not land at the Keshod air strip due to bad weather, an official said.

He was later flown in a special Air Force helicopter.

One Devendra Chavda (18) drowned in flood waters last night near Bhupgat town in Rajkot district, and efforts were on to trace his body, a Fire department official said.

Sandeep Rathod (7) was washed by the rising waters of the Mini river when he was crossing it on his way back home from his school near Angadh village in Vadodara district, a Nandesari police station official said.

“The incident took place yesterday, and his body was recovered today,” he said.

Gir Somnath in Saurashtra has been the worst-hit district, along with Junagadh, Amreli, Jamnagar and Rajkot, while in south Gujarat, Valsad and Navsari district have been badly affected.

Educational institutions in Rajkot, Gir Somnath and Amreli districts remained shut today, even as 20 teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) were pressed into service to carry out rescue and relief operations alongside local authorities wherever required.

According to the officials, over 3,500 people across all the affected districts were relocated to safer places, and over 150 roads were closed as a precautionary measure.

Several villages were being provided drinking water through tankers.

A train running between Una-Delwada stuck near Una town in Gir Somnath district and passengers were rescued by the NDRF, an official of the Western Railway said, adding that some of the long-distance trains are running behind the schedule as heavy rains and waterlogging have hampered their movement.

Many towns in Gir Somnath turned into islands as the district has been witnessing heavy rains for the third consecutive day.

Over 27 dams and reservoirs in Saurashtra region are overflowing as districts like Rajkot (150 mm), Gir Somnath (300mm), Amreli (175 m) have been receiving incessant rainfall since the past 24 hours.

South Gujarat region received 57.27 per cent of the average rainfall till today, even as 115 talukas in south Gujarat and Saurashtra received significant rainfall so far, a state data showed. North Gujarat, including Ahmedabad, has received the lowest rainfall in this season so far.

Gir Gadhada taluka in Gir Somnath district received 496 mm rainfall overnight, followed by Una in the district at 350 mm and Kodinar at 330 mm. Dharampur in Valsad district received 225 mm while Valsad taluka received 217 mm rainfall.

As per the official data, Junagadh and Jamnagar districts in Saurashtra received maximum rainfall since morning, with Manavadar in Junagadh receiving 251 mm rainfall in four hours since 8 am today.

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