How Panama papers jolted India and Pakistan a year ago

first_imgIn April last year, the world seemed to be suddenly flooded by the news of several big names being accused of stashing unaccounted wealth in tax havens in various forms – courtesy Panama papers.Panama papers are leaked documents of about 1.15 crore files containing details of about 2.15 lakh bank accounts. The documents were leaked from Mossack Fonseca, which is headquartered at Panama.Mossack Fonseca is a legal firm having offices in about 35 countries of the world. Mossack Fonseca provides consultancy to people and companies in lieu of heavy fee.It is alleged that in the garb of providing legal consultancy in financial matters, Mossack Fonseca helped investors establish off-shore companies in tax haven countries to evade tax in their respective countries.Since these companies are formed in the some chosen tax haven countries, the ownership details of the firms are kept hidden, which helps the investors evade taxes in the countries where they evaded tax and siphoned off the unaccounted money.WHAT PANAMA PAPERS SAIDThe leaked documents suggested that about 140 politicians and hundreds of celebrities worldwide invested money in tax haven countries. They floated shadow companies, trusts and corporations at places like Panama, British Virgin Islands and Bahamas.The documents tell the story of the handling of black money or tax evasion by just one consultancy major. Founded in 1977, Mossack Fonseca is the fourth largest legal and financial consultancy firm in the world.German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung managed to get the entire volume of document through its source. The volume of the document was so huge – to the tune of 2.6 terabyte – that Zeitung approached the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) to unravel the information contained in the leaked data.advertisementThis data was manifold of the previous biggest leaks by Julian Assange and Edword Snowden.THE BIG NAMES IN THE LEAKMore than 100 media houses from across the globe sifted through the leaked data and dug out names of people who invested their money in tax haven.The list included 12 world leaders – serving and ex-head of states. Prominent names are Russian President Vladimir Putin, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, China’s President Xi Jinping, former and Pakistan PM Benazir Bhutto among others.Argentine footballer Lionel Messy is the biggest name from the world of sports to figure in the list of investors.SOME BIG INDIAN NAMESAccording to the Indian Express, the Indian newspaper that was part of the investigative team, some 500 Indian citizen, companies and trusts had invested the tax haven countries.The investors included DLF promoter KP Singh, Sameer Gehlot of India Bulls, Vinod Adani, underworld don Iqbal Mirchi, Garware family, Shishir Bajoria and Omkar Kanwar (maker of Apollo tyres) among others.However, the biggest names also included Amitabh Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. Amitabh has since denied having evaded tax and any knowledge of investments made in tax haven countries in his name.Amitabh Bachchan’s name figured as director in four companies. Three of those companies were registered in Bahamas and one in Virgin Islands. Aishwarya Rai was made director in one company. Later, she was made a share holder of the company.Interestingly, the list also included former solicitor general Harish Salve.WHY NAWAZ SHARIF IS FACING THE HEATThe Panama papers showed that Pakistan PM’s sons – Hasan and Hussain – and daughter Mariyam founded four companies in the tax haven of British Virgin Islands.These companies purchased six big properties in London.The Sharif family mortgaged a part of these properties to take about Rs 70 crore loan from Deutsche Bank.They also bought two apartment in the UK for which they took loan from the Bank of Scotland.ALSO READ |Panama Papers case: Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif to face probe, rules Supreme Court ALSO WATCH |Panama leaks: Congress demands Amitabh Bachchan’s removal in govt held projectslast_img read more