‘Pandora Papers’, an investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which includes 150 media outlets, including The Indian Express, claims to have revealed financial secrets of the “rich, the famous and the notorious” from 91 countries.
There are at least 380 Indians in the Pandora Papers. These individuals include Anil Ambani, Sachin Tendulkar, and Kiran Mazumdar Shaw's husband John Shaw among others. Sixty of these prominent individuals and companies have been verified and have had their documents corroborated.
Overseas, the Pandora Papers expose dealings of the king of Jordan, the presidents of Ukraine, Kenya and Ecuador, the prime minister of the Czech Republic, and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
The files also expose the financial activities of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “unofficial minister of propaganda” and more than 130 billionaires from India, Russia, the United States, Mexico, and other nations, The Indian Express reported.
What Do the ‘Pandora Papers’ Reveal?
The investigation by 600 journalists from all over the world revealed how “complex multi-layered trust structures for estate planning” were being set up in parts of the world that are “loosely regulated for tax purposes, but characterised by air-tight secrecy laws.”
The Pandora Papers contain over 11 million leaked files revealing 29,000 off-the-shelf companies and private trusts set up by 14 global corporate services firms.
As per analysis of the ‘Pandora Papers’, there are two main reasons for the setting up of these trusts.
For the individuals to hide their real identities and distance themselves from the offshore entities, in an attempt to make it harder for the tax authorities to reach them.
To protect cash, shareholdings, real estate, art, aircraft, yachts and other such investments from creditors and law enforcement.
Anil Ambani who had declared bankruptcy in a United Kingdom court after being asked to pay over $700 million to three Chinese state-controlled banks, has 18 asset holding offshore companies.
Nirav Modi, who fled India in January 2018, after the Rs 13,500-crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam, had his sister Purvi set up a firm in the British Virgin Islands to act as a corporate protector of a trust formed through the Trident Trust Company, Singapore.
According to the report, Biocon promoter Kiran Mazumdar Shaw’s husband set up a trust with keys to a person who has been banned by the Securities and Exchange Board of India for insider trading, The Indian Express reported.
Indian cricket superstar and member of the upper house of Parliament, Sachin Tendulkar, along with family members, has also figured in the Pandora Papers as beneficial owner of an offshore entity in the British Virgin Islands, which was liquidated in 2016.
Tendulkar’s attorney, however, has claimed that Tendulkar’s investment is legitimate and has been declared to tax authorities.
(This is a developing story and will be updated.)
(With inputs from The Indian Express.)