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Panama papers expose: DLF, Apollo, Indiabulls deny charges

April 05, 2016 08:51 IST
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The list includes Gautam Adani's brother Vinod Adani among others.

Image: A list of those who have allegedly opened shell companies in tax havens included 500 Indians. Photograph: Reuters
 
 

The so-called Panama Papers made Finance Minister Arun Jaitley promise to crack down on tax dodgers, even as some India Inc leaders denied floating offshore companies to evade local tax laws.

According to leaked documents from Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, a list of those who have allegedly opened shell companies in tax havens included 500 Indians.

The list included Ahmedabad-based billionaire Gautam Adani's brother Vinod Adani, film actors Amitabh Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai, corporate lawyer Harish Salve, and Onkar Kanwar of Apollo Tyres.

Real estate firm DLF's promoter K P Singh's family and Mallika Srinivasan, wife of TVS Motor Chairman Venu Srinivasan, also figured on the list. 

According to The Indian Express, which published the Panama Papers in India, Salve and Kanwar said they opened offshore companies after ensuring all Indian laws were met.

Srinivasan said the offshore company does not belong to her but to a non-resident Indian, V P Ahuja. An email sent to the Adani group did not get any response till going to press.

DLF's Singh - who deposited $10 million in offshore companies - said the investment was made under the Liberalised Remittance Scheme (LRS).

DLF Chief Executive Officer Rajeev Talwar said: "This (report) is aimed at distorting public perception which is extremely dear and important to all corporates and promoter families, especially when they have followed all applicable rules and regulations of the government of India…. We vehemently and strongly emphasise that all remittances were made after the government introduced the LRS Scheme in 2004. Each year the remittances were below the limit prescribed by RBI," he said. 

The report published by The Indian Express had said the DLF promoter family owns firms in the British Virgin Islands (BVI).

Talwar said: "There is no question of wrongdoing. No companies were set up by the promoter groups in BVI. All these were existing companies to which shares were subscribed to, as permitted by the government of India." Each year, this was reported to the Income-Tax Department, it was also mentioned in DLF's annual report, he added.

The report also said Onkar Kanwar, Chairman of Apollo Group, and his family members floated an offshore entity in BVI in 2010 and two trusts in 2014.

A spokesperson said, "India lawfully permits foreign investments in accordance with certain regulations. Any investment abroad that the Kanwar family may have is in due compliance with the Indian laws, including making disclosures wherever required. Much of the family members mentioned are NRIs. They are covered by other nation's permissible laws for their foreign investments and are not covered by Indian laws and restrictions on residents in matters such as Income Tax and RBI." 

In a statement on Monday, Indiabulls' promoter Sameer Gehlaut said he gets dividends worth Rs 350-450 crore (Rs 3.5 to 4.5 billion) every year.

He said he has been investing in his Indian family trust, the Sameer Gehlaut Family Trust, for further investments in its wholly owned subsidiary in India, Callies Infrastructure Pvt Ltd (India).

Further, the statement said, Callies has capitalised its wholly owned subsidiary in Bahamas, Clivedale Overseas Ltd, which is engaged in the property development business in London through its subsidiaries under the brand Clivedale.

"Indiabulls Real Estate Ltd is also engaged in the business of property development in London and has acquired 22 Hanover Square. The overseas business of construction and property development being carried out by SG Family Trust and Indiabulls Real Estate is strictly as per the RBI policy framework for Overseas Direct Investments. All disclosures pertaining to business of SG Family Trust and Indiabulls Real Estate have been made to RBI and Income Tax departments for every financial year since inception and also as and when each of the overseas remittances have been made," Gehlaut said.

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