8th November is almost here and while the government is planning to celebrate the demonetization anniversary as Anti Black Money Day, there is a huge scam involving around 714 Indian big shots that’s making news around the globe. Yes, we are talking about the Paradise Papers.
A year and a half ago, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and news organizations from around the world reported on the Panama Papers, an unprecedented leak from a Panamanian firm that specialized in starting shell corporations for the ultra-wealthy. Now, the ICIJ is back with a new leak, the Paradise Papers.
With more than 13.4 million leaked secret corporate files revealing the workings of the tax haven industry, Paradise Papers is the largest leak in the history.
Over half of these documents belong to the offshore law firm Applebay, but the leak also includes over half-a-million documents from the Singapore-based Asiaciti Trust and a further 6 million documents from corporate registries located in 19 tax havens.
Here is everything you should know about Paradise Papers and its India connection
Is this the same as Panama Papers?
The Panama Papers involved millions of files leaked from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, showing how some of its clients laundered money, dodged sanctions and avoided tax.This is a separate leak. However, it will raise many similar questions.
What does the leak reveal?
The leak contains documents that outline the tax and financial affairs of hundreds of people and companies connected to Appleby and the 19 tax havens, with many appearing to have invested or sheltered huge amounts of cash in offshore tax havens.
How does it work?
Applebay is a member of a global network of lawyers, accountants and bankers involved in setting up offshore companies, managing bank accounts to help clients avoid or evade taxes, manage real estate assets, open escrow accounts, purchase aeroplanes and yachts at lower tax rates, or simply help move money across the globe using offshore entities.
How and by whom were the documents procured?
It was the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung, that obtained the files and shared them with 95 other media organisations around the world. In all, 381 journalists in 67 countries have been analysing the material for one year. Suddeutsche Zeitung has not revealed its source.
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.
Among the 180 countries represented in the data, India ranks 19th in terms of number of names. A total of 714 Indians have been named in the Paradise Papers. However, it must be noted that not all offshore transactions are necessarily illegal.
Union minister Jayant Sinha's name also figures in the Paradise Papers. According to the Indian Express, which is a partner of ICIJ, before Sinha was elected as an MP from Hazaribagh in 2014 he worked with Omidyar Network as its managing director in India. The company invested in a US firm D.Light Design which has a subsidiary in Cayman Islands in the Caribbean Sea.
The list of people involved includes Indian big shots like Amitabh Bacchan, Niira Radia, Vijay Mallya and Sanjay Datt’s wife Manyata.
Cover image source: indianexpress