Black money trail: 'Panama papers' list names Amitabh Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai among other Indians

Amitabh-Bachchan-reuters Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan

A year later the Swiss Leaks that revealed more than 1000 Indian names, who held illegal overseas bank accounts to stash money, another global list has emerged with details of Indians involved in offshore dealings.

A huge leak of 11.5 million tax documents from a law firm in Panama has named top political leaders, businessmen and personalities from sports and entertainment from around the world suggesting that they have stashed large amounts of money offshore in assets.

The 'Panama papers' list has Indian names, including Bollywood actors Amitabh Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and DLF owner K.P. Singh and fugitive Iqbal Mirchi.

The documents were leaked from Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca and connect to 140 politicians in more than 50 countries. The documents also offer more than 500 Indian names, who have financial interests in offshore companies, foundations and trusts. There are also 234 Indian passports, which were handed over by clients as part of the incorporation process.

According to The Indian Express, in 1993 Amitabh Bachchan was named director for at least four offshore shipping companies, of which one was registered in British Virgin Islands and three in the Bahamas. This was before he launched Amitabh Bachchan Corporation Limited (ABCL) in 1995.

Meanwhile, Aishwarya and members of her family for some time were the stakeholders in a company registered in British Virgin Islands.

“Documents which show that Rai, her father Kotedadi Ramana Rai Krishna Rai, mother Vrinda Krishna Raj Rai and brother Aditya Rai were appointed on May 14, 2005, as directors of Amic Partners Limited,” said The Indian Express report.

However, Aishwarya's designation was revised from 'director' to 'shareholder' in 2005 and the same year, she even shortened her name as A Rai to maintain the confidentiality.

However, post her marriage to Abhishek Bachchan, in 2008 the company was dissolved.

“DLF promoters K.P. Singh had acquired a company registered in British Virgin Islands in 2010. His family's three offshore entities hold almost $10 million," said the report.

Some of the Indian names from the list also includes, Shishir Bajoria from Kolkata and former chief of the Delhi unit of Loksatta Party Anurag Kejriwal and even fugitive Iqbal Mirchi.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had banned Indian citizens from floating offshore companies until 2003. However, in 2004, the RBI relaxed its rules, allowing individuals to remit funds of up to $25,000 a year under the Liberalised Remittance Scheme (LRS). But restrictions on Indians floating offshore companies continued.

The RBI in 2013, changed this rule by permitting individuals to invest in joint ventures or subsidiaries under the Overseas Direct Investment (ODI) scheme even as it increased the annual limit to $250,000.

The list offers names of some powerful political leaders, including Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Iceland Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson and close associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Pakistan PM's family has set up at least four offshore companies to stash money in Panama, said the leaked documents.

The list also features the names of football great Lionel Messi and international film star Jackie Chan as the clients of Mossack Fonseca.

The 'Panama Papers' expose is the culmination of a 8-month long joint investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung and over 100 media outlets around the world.

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