Two former officers of the Indian Revenue Service, one who was arrested for alleged corruption and money laundering, and another who was an Income Tax Chief Commissioner, have Swiss bank accounts, an investigation of records in the Pandora Papers by The Indian Express shows.
Homi Rajvansh (IRS, 1985 batch) was Additional Managing Director of National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED) when he was booked on charges of corruption and money laundering and for giving undue gains to private parties while in office.
He was arrested by the CBI in 2011 and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) alleged he had Rs 2.9-crore worth of disproportionate assets. In 2019, Rajvansh was put under “compulsory retirement” by the Government.
Fresh records, investigated by The Indian Express, show that the Swiss OAG (Office of the Attorney General) had, in 2013, seized all records as evidence and imposed sanctions on two offshore companies set up by Rajvansh: Horsham Technologies Ltd and Wairoa Industries Inc.
Both these firms were set up by the Trident Trust in the British Virgin Islands (BVI). Horsham was incorporated with Homi Rajvansh and his wife, Alka Rajvansh, as Beneficial Owner way back in 2004. There are records to show that Wairoa Industries Inc was in existence since 2011.
Records for Horsham show that its original documents will lie with Suisse Trust AG. Its “purpose” is is stated as holding “bankable assets” and it is written that the company will be subsequently liquidated. The form shows that Horsham will hold a bank account with Credit Suisse.
Incidentally, even while serving in the Government, Homi Rajvansh, records show, passed himself off as an “independent commodity broker” while setting up the BVI companies. Records show his residential address in Delhi’s Greater Kailash.
Swiss authorities launched criminal proceedings, seized all evidence such as details of offshore companies, banking and asset details as well as imposed a communication ban even within banks.
Later, the Attorney General of the BVI and Homi Rajvansh himself were informed about the Swiss criminal proceedings.
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Significantly, records show, in 2012, Credit Suisse AG, Zurich (which held the correspondence address for Rajvansh) and Clariden Leu Trust (which held his bank accounts) initiated Suspicious Transaction Reports (SARs) and, as per Swiss procedure, alerted the OAG.
The criminal complaint filed by the OAG against Horsham, Homi Rajvansh and Alka Rajvansh notes: “The Clariden Leu Trust was moved to file the report after reading reports that Homi Rajvansh was involved in criminal proceedings in India and the bank could not exclude the possibility that the assets were of felonious origin.”
The OAG reiterated: “It cannot be excluded that the assets transferred to the client accounts are connected to the offences that Homi Rajvansh is accused in India.”
The OAG’s criminal complaint also refers to another “numbered’’ account in the name of Alka Rajvansh codenamed “Sunlight.” The OAG report states that “according to Homi and Alka Rajvansh, the assets originated from their activities as independent commodity brokers…”
The criminal complaint filed by OAG in the case of Wairoa Industries Inc, lists transactions done by the offshore company via the Clariden Leu account. For instance, in 2004, there was a transfer of $320,000; in 2009, a transfer of $140,000.
In 2015, employees of Trident Trust exchanged mails on Wairoa Industries and referred to its alleged money laundering offences under the Swiss Penal Code.
Former Income Tax Chief Commissioner Sushil Gupta figures in Pandora Papers in a Trident Trust company registration form.
It shows that Gupta registered a company Allied Trading Ltd in January 2017 describing himself as the “business owner” of an Indian company Hopewell Tradelink.
Records of Allied Trading Ltd, the document shows, are to be maintained by a Cyprus-based company, Aster Worldwide Ltd. The activity of the BVI company is stated as “holding of investments.”
Significantly, the company opening form states that the “owners’ funds” would be held in Switzerland and the estimated value of the assets of Sushil Kumar Gupta would be $500,000.
Hopewell Tradelink deals in wholesale trade of commodities and has other members of his family, besides him, as Directors. Its paid up capital is Rs 47 lakh.
When contacted, Gupta said: “I retired from the Income Tax Department 20 years ago and am not obliged to answer such questions from anyone.”
Responding to queries from The Indian Express, Homi Rajvansh said that in 2015, he was asked to furnish “similar clarifications” before the Criminal Justice Department of Switzerland “through communication of complete set of documents (related to companies incorporated abroad along with details of Swiss bank accounts) forwarded by the Swiss authorities to the Indian authorities.”
“On November 6, 2015, in response to my reply to the Swiss authorities categorically denying any involvement or association with the aforesaid companies/ allegations, I received a communication from the Criminal Justice Department of Switzerland, informing me that the inquiry initiated in 2012 by the Criminal Justice Department of Switzerland were completely abandoned by them on May 27, 2015 and the proceedings were discontinued completely.
“Similarly, in India also an attempt was made to malign me and my wife and allegations of my owning assets disproportionate to my income were sought to be made/ framed against us. However, the criminal courts of India also honourably discharged both me and my wife in the DA case at the time of framing of charge itself,’’ he said.