An offshore family trust owned by Rohan Timblo, son of Goa-based miner Radha Timblo; its three underlying companies; and transactions with two Bulgarian citizens, have come under the scanner of the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS), the Pandora Papers show.
Records reviewed by The Indian Express reveal that in 2018, the IRAS sought information from Asiaciti Trust Singapore Pte Ltd that provided corporate trustee services to Timblo.
The IRAS asked for details of Timblo’s Colares Trust in Singapore and its three underlying firms – Calheta Holdings Ltd in Samoa, Cazar Finance SA in the British Virgin Islands and Panama-based Corylus Assets Inc.
Multiple emails sent by The Indian Express to the Timblo family and a text message to Radha Timblo did not elicit any response.
🗞️ Read the best investigative journalism in India. Subscribe to The Indian Express e-Paper here.
Records show the inquiry by the IRAS was preceded by two suspicious transaction reports (STRs) by Asiaciti.
The first STR was filed after Timblo in January 2015 sought to add two unrelated persons of Bulgarian origin — Martin Vladimir Dobrev and Tchavdar Tchavdarov Tzenov — as beneficiaries of his family trust, Colares, that was set up for family wealth succession.
This STR also flagged a Euro 172200 loan transaction in favor of Dextera Capital Ltd, a Bulgarian firm owned by Dobrev and Tzenov. As per the STR, the loan amount was exactly the amount that Calheta Holdings had in its bank account.
While Asiaciti did not allow Timblo to add the Bulgarian nationals as beneficiaries of the trust, it allowed the loan transaction to go through in November 2015.
However, Asiaciti also filed an STR with the Singapore Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), records show.
Immediately after the loan transaction, both Colares Trust and Calheta Holdings were struck off in November 2015 and February 2016 respectively.
“While carrying out due diligence prior to executing the loan transaction for Dextera, the organization (Asiaciti) discovered that the subject (Rohan) was recently implicated in a mining scandal involving Timblo Private Limited, an enterprise owned by his mother Radha Timblo and where the subject is named as one of the directors together with his brother Chetan Timblo,” the first STR stated.
“Chetan Timblo has since been questioned with regards to the Indian Black Money case involving tax evasion and fraud in India. In a government affidavit filed in the black money case with the courts, the subject is also alleged to hold an illegal bank account abroad, but no further details are available at this time,” it stated.
In October 2014, the Indian government informed the Supreme Court that it has initiated prosecution against the Timblo family including Radha Timblo, Chetan Timblo, Rohan and Mallika Timblo for allegedly stashing black money abroad. At that time, Radha Timblo denied wrongdoing.
The government action was based on the findings of an Income Tax Department probe into Timblo Pvt Ltd and its managing director Radha Timblo that began in 2010.
The tax authority alleged that Radha Timblo declared the existence of two foreign bank accounts at Wing Hang Bank Ltd and Bank of Communication, Hong Kong, during a tax survey on the mining company in 2010.
Subsequently, the tax department alleged that Timblo Pvt Ltd had under-invoiced iron ore exports to a Japanese firm and diverted the additional sale proceeds to these two bank accounts.
The tax authority also submitted its findings on Timblo with the Special Investigation Team (SIT) set up to track down black money cases under the chairmanship of former Supreme Court judge M B Shah.
The Pandora Papers show that in June 2016, Asiaciti filed a second STR, this time on Calheta Holdings. The STR said that following the first STR by Asiaciti, Rohan Timblo in May 2016 visited the office of Asiaciti to clear outstanding issues.
Timblo, according to the STR, requested for documents pertaining to the trust structure set up with Asiaciti including the bank account records of Colares Trust and Calheta Holdings.
“Rohan declined to make payment of fees by electronic transfer and ended up paying cash for the additional time charges to make duplicate statements. Also he specifically instructed me (Asiaciti officer) not to use the email address he provided earlier and that he does not want email communication at all,” the Asiaciti officer said in the June 2016 STR.
According to records, Colares Trust was set up in 2011 as a family trust with Rohan Timblo, his wife Mallika Timblo and their children as the ultimate beneficiaries.
The trust was set up by Rohan Timblo to receive profits from the mining business in India.
According to the trust structure, Calheta, one of the three companies controlled by it, held money to “accumulate and grow” Rohan Timblo’s family wealth for his “wife and kids”.
Two other firms, Cazar and Corylus, were formed by the trust to invest in “truck-stop business in Bulgaria” and “property project and related investments in Bulgaria (building, renting or selling holiday homes and luxury apartments)’ to be managed by a UK property agent.
According to financial records of the companies owned by Colares Trust, in February 2013, Rohan Timblo in two transactions remitted through the trust Euro 600000 and Euro 60000 to his father-in-law Dilip Mahabal Kulkarni for a private investment and for acquiring stake in Bulgarian firm EM Boyana Ltd, respectively.
Incidentally, in November 2014, Timblo’s wife and children were removed as beneficiaries of the Colares Trust.
This was a month after the Indian government said it had initiated action against the Timblo family under the Income Tax Act for allegedly stashing black money in offshore accounts.