Panama links Italian currency-paper firm to Delhi businessman

Fabriano was among the nine companies that got contracts for emergency currency-paper supplies in December 2016 after the demonetisation drive.

Written by Ashutosh Bhardwaj , Ritu Sarin | New Delhi | Updated: March 28, 2017 8:25 am
panama, panama papers leak, panama black money, offshore money, Panama Papers investigation, Satya Prakash Gupta, Fabriano, Enforcement Directorate, Mossack Fonse, indian express news, india news Gupta was named by The Indian Express (May 4, 2016) among the 400 Indians who figured in the Panama Papers.

Fresh leads and offshore entities have emerged from the Panama Papers investigation which lead to Satya Prakash Gupta, a Delhi-based businessman who has for over a decade “represented” Fabriano, the Italian currency-paper major, which has been given several supply contracts in India.

Fabriano was among the nine companies that got contracts for emergency currency-paper supplies in December 2016 after the demonetisation drive.

Read | What is Panama Papers? Here is everything you need to know

Gupta was named by The Indian Express (May 4, 2016) among the 400 Indians who figured in the Panama Papers. After sending him several summons, the Income Tax Investigation unit conducted searches at his office and residence in New Delhi in December last year. He was detained at the international airport and questioned for several days.

Video| A Peek Into India Express’ 8 Month Long Investigation

On March 20, Gupta was again detained at the international airport and not allowed to board a flight to Italy.

Speaking to The Indian Express , he said: “There are nine foreign currency-paper suppliers who have got contracts and all of them have Indian representatives. But only I am being singled out for this treatment because I have been named in the Panama Papers.”

READ: Panama Papers explained

However, officials in the Income Tax Department and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) say that an analysis of data recovered during the December 2016 searches has revealed a web of allegedly undeclared off-shore companies several of which have been incorporated by Mossack Fonseca in various jurisdictions, the last in 2015.

Read | Panama Papers: 415 Indians under scanner as probe widens

A note from I-T to ED, accessed by The Indian Express, alleges that Gupta received 7 million Euro (Rs 50.49 crore) from an off-shore company registered in Samoa called Ballenta Incorporated and 4 million Euro (Rs 28.85 crore) from Anglo Manx Corporation Limited in Isle of Mann.

These payments were received between December 2015 to March 2016. The I-T note to the ED also says that the payments were given “under the guise of a loan on the confirmation and support of NextGen General Trading LLC.” This off-shore company, incorporated in Ras Al Khaimah, UAE, was already connected with Gupta, an investigation of the Panama Papers by The Indian Express had found.

Income Tax investigators claim that after the global expose on Mossack Fonseca’s off-shore network, Gupta attempted to re-route these deposits to his bank accounts in Dubai and this alerted the bankers since Ballenta was named in the Panama Papers.

The Income Tax note to ED adds: “Information gathered from foreign intelligence sources and domestic banking channels suggests that this money was brought to India and then returned to NextGen General Trading LLC. When questioned by the bank authorities, Satya Prakash Gupta created back dated documents stating that the loan given by Anglo Manx Trust, isle of Mann and Ballenta Incorporated Samoa have been assigned to NextGen General Trading LLC. Further, he also created a back dated letter from NextGen General Trading LLC to himself asking for the loan to be returned within 15 days. These draft agreements were found during search in the computers and emails of Satya Prakash Gupta.”

A fresh scan of documents, agreements and emails in the leaked Mossack Fonseca data reveal a direct connection with Satya Prakash Gupta, with his passport, appointment letters (for NextGen General Trading LLC) and details of incorporating the entities and opening foreign bank accounts being part of the data. For instance:

* Ballenta Incorporated: Data shows it was first registered in the island nation of Niue on June 19, 2002, by Anglo Manx Trust Corporation Limited and then “redomiciled” to Samoa in 2006. The company had an initial listing of shares worth $50,000 and, interestingly, there are minutes of the Board of Ballenta Incorporated meeting as late as March 20, 2015. All the Directors of the company have listed addresses in the isle of Mann.

* Anglo Manx Corporation Limited: The company is seen as a “client” of Mossack Fonseca which in turn trades in shelf companies, including Ballenta and Sterling Global Partners Limited. There are payments made by Anglo Manx to Mossack as late as December 2015 for these companies. In reference to Sterling Global, data for Anglo Manx shows that the reference is to a Beneficial Owner (BO) who frequently travels to Dubai without naming him.

* Sterling Global Partners Limited: This is the Mossack entity in which, data shows, Gupta is named as the company’s Beneficial Owner. The final incorporation emails are dated July 15, 2015 with the company registered in Ras Al Khaimah, UAE. The shareholders of the company is another entity, Forward Consulting LTD with Grosvenor Nominees Limited appointed its Secretary. There are several emails about the urgent need for the “client” to open bank accounts in London and Dubai. It is for the opening of bank accounts for this entity that Gupta provides copies of his agreements and appointment letters with NextGen General Trading LLC which form part of the data of Panama Papers.

While the Mossack documents provide no direct link to payments received by Satya Prakash Gupta from Fabriano (now part of the Fedrigoni Group), IT authorities have informed the ED about evidence they have collected during the searches about alleged payments being received from the Italian firm by two other companies Green Peas Business Solutions Limited and St James Technologies Limited.

This is what they have stated, “On being questioned Satya Prakash Gupta stated that Green Peas Business Solutions received payments for advisory services; while payments received by St James Technologies Limited were in the nature of royalty for colour-shifting thread developed by him…” These two companies, however do not figure in the Panama Papers.

Significantly, IT searches also yielded a copy of 2006 agreement between Fabriano and Satya Prakash Gupta which mentions a 14% commission to be given to him for securing currency-paper contracts in India.

Speaking to The Indian Express two days after he was again restrained from travelling abroad, Gupta said he had asked “agents” in Dubai to open off-shore companies for him and says the receipts of money were the loan he took from NextGen General Trading. “They gave me a loan and when the business did not come in I wanted to return the loan to them. As far as Fabriano is concerned, they gave me a commission in the early years but later made this a share of their profit margin. With profits being poor, I have not earned anything from them in the past five years.”

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