New Delhi: Two days before the government observes “Anti-Black Money Day” to mark the first anniversary of demonetisation, comes the largest ever leak of financial data.
A vast leak of financial documents could expose the secret wealth of hundreds of rich Indians, including politicians, corporate heavyweights and entertainment leaders, who are suspected to have used offshore tax havens to dodge taxes.
This cache of 13.4 million documents named “Paradise Papers” tumbled out 18 months after Panama Papers: both sets of data were obtained by German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and were investigated by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) working in partnership with 96 news organisations.
Among the 180 countries represented in the data, India ranks 19th in terms of the number of names, according to sources.
Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjay Dutt’s wife Manyata Dutt, Union minister Jayant Sinha, Niira Radia, and chairman of Fortis-Escorts Dr Ashok Seth have been named in the Paradise Papers, according to reports.
In all, there are 714 Indians in the tally, it reported. Interestingly, an Indian firm figures as Appleby’s second-largest client globally, with at least 118 different offshore entities, it said.
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 President Vladimir Putin.
According to records obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), Ross is an investor in Navigator Holdings, a shipping giant that counts Russian gas and petrochemical producer Sibur among its major customers. Putin’s son-in-law Kirill Shamalov once owned over 20% of the company, but now holds a much smaller stake.
The latest revelations come out of an investigation led by the ICIJ, which was provided data collected in an alleged hack in 2016 of Appleby Global Group Services, a Bermuda firm providing legal services for hedge fund managers and corporations.
The leak also revealed that millions of pounds from the private estate of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II have been invested in offshore tax haven funds.