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Wednesday, December 08, 2021

Pandora Papers: One Rajasthan royal floated firm to buy UK house, another wound company up

Gaj Singh of Jodhpur, a former Member of Parliament, and Arvind Singh Mewar of Udaipur, both former Maharajas of erstwhile princely states, figure in the Pandora Papers.

Written by Ritu Sarin | New Delhi |
Updated: October 13, 2021 9:08:31 am
Gaj Singh of Jodhpur and Arvind Singh Mewar of Udaipur figure in the Pandora Papers.

Gaj Singh of Jodhpur, a former Member of Parliament, and Arvind Singh Mewar of Udaipur, both former Maharajas of erstwhile princely states, figure in the Pandora Papers for offshore entities they set up years ago, records investigated by The Indian Express show.

Both are categorized as PEPs (Politically Exposed Persons) and they had to clarify that their place of residence were their royal palaces currently being run as luxury hotels.

Mewar, records show, set up the Far East Trust in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) in 2010 with Asiaciti Trust of Singapore and gave his Udaipur Palace as his residence.

He is the Settlor of the Trust and a complex offshore structure was created around it with another BVI company Malzie Holdings Ltd, and one in Guernsey, Channel Islands, called Grit Limited.

Mewar’s daughter, Bhargavi Kumari Mewar, is also named in Asiaciti Trust documents as the beneficiary of another Guernsey entity, The Grit Trust.

Asiaciti’s records show that Far East Trust and its subsidiary offshore structures were principally set up for the Mewar family to hold a property at Clarendon Mews in London.

Documents show Arvind Singh Mewar set up the Far East Trust with Asiaciti Trust of Singapore.

As for the source of funds, the Asiaciti Trust has noted it was, “family wealth derived over many generations and current boutique high-end hotel business.”

There is a special mention on the confidentiality required for the Far East Trust: “No correspondence should be sent to India, for confidentiality reasons. The client is contactable by phone and his advisors in the UK are available at all times…”

On August 5, 2015, the property at Clarendon Mews was sold for 1.94 million pounds (approximately Rs 19.94 crore). Minutes of a Trust meeting — attended by Arvind Singh Mewar— on June 8, 2015, suggest that after the property’s sale, the trust may be wound up.

Asiaciti records also show that Arvind Mewar was categorized as a PEP although he didn’t hold any public office but because of his ownership of “5-star top end boutique hotels used by royalty, politicians and film stars.”

Asiaciti Trust also issued instructions that Arvind Mewar’s incoming payments be reviewed every six months “given the high profile nature of the client.”

In response to questions sent by The Indian Express, Arvind Singh Mewar replied: “I imagine the truth of conducting such an investigation is to bring out people who are genuine offenders than to just put cat among the pigeons and send everybody scuttling around the globe…I propose that offenders should be committed to do a self-assessment if there is any case of economic offence booked against them….condemning everybody without giving an opportunity to present their case today in our civilized world is hardly a step in the right direction…please do not rub such matters time and again for the loss of dignity of the tax payers who are normally great contributors to the economy of the nation. Let us develop a productive methodology without accusing everybody of high treason.”

Records for Gaj Singh of Jodhpur figure in the Pandora Papers in connection with the 2018 liquidation of a BVI offshore entity, Atalante Perennity Inc., incorporated by Trident Trust via its Master Client, Fidinam in Geneva.

Records show that while Trident Trust received all required documents such as liquidation plan; statement of assets and liabilities; shareholders resolutions, what was missing was the certified proof of address of the Beneficiary Owner (BO).

The emails begin with describing the BO as a PEP: “We are not going to get a utility bill in his name. He lives in a palace and part of it is also an hotel…”

Another email states: “Trident BVI is seeking an address proof or letter from Fidinam confirming the address of GSJ (Gaj Singh’s initials) in connection with the subject company. Do we really need to ask for this for this gentleman? You can see his address if you type his name into Google. His home is Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur.”

The liquidation process appears to be on course with a Trident Trust staffer confirming in an email dated February 6, 2018: “Please note that a certified proof of address is not required for Jodhpur Gaj Singh as it is known to us that he lives at Umaid Bhawan Palace, he is former member of Parliament and the former Maharaja of Jodhpur.”

The email continues, “Please be advised that the liquidation fee has been received with UBS Zurich… proceed with the liquidation.”

In response to questions sent by The Indian Express, a representative of Gaj Singh said: “We have no idea of the company or Trust that you have mentioned in your email.”

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