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Pandora Papers: India-born Singapore billionaire with ties to powerful takes offshore route

Arvind Tiku is not just another businessman. His business associates include LN Mittal, chairman of the world’s largest steel and metal company, ArcelorMittal, and Timur Kulibaev, son-in-law of former President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Written by P Vaidyanathan Iyer | New Delhi |
Updated: October 9, 2021 8:45:49 am
Arvind Tiku is ranked by Forbes in 2021 as the 18th richest person in Singapore with a net worth of $2.2 billion.

India-born Arvind Tiku, 51, ranked by Forbes in 2021 as the 18th richest in Singapore with a net worth of $2.2 billion, has established The Sai Charan Investment Holding Trust in Singapore, of which Auctus Investments Ltd, a British Virgin Islands company, is the prime investment holding vehicle with assets of $199.4 million, show records of Trident Trust, a global corporate services company headquartered in BVI.

Tiku is not just another businessman. His business associates include LN Mittal, chairman of the world’s largest steel and metal company, ArcelorMittal, and Timur Kulibaev, son-in-law of former President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev.

While verifying credentials using the World-Check service offered by Thomson Reuters, Trident Trust had red-flagged Tiku, given his association with Kulibaev and Mittal (both Politically Exposed Persons), and sought an enhanced due diligence check on him. He was shown as a beneficial owner of KazStroyService Global BV, a company controlled by Tiku, LN Mittal, Timur Kulibaev and Goldman Sachs.

The Indian Express independently corroborated it. The 2013 Annual Report of UK energy company Nostrum Oil and Gas highlights KSS Global as an entity indirectly controlled by the four, and as the beneficial holder of 26.6 per cent of the UK company.

Profiling him among the 50 richest in Singapore, Forbes said Tiku left India when he was 18 to study mechanical engineering in Russia and worked as a commodities trader before venturing into oil and gas in Kazakhstan.

Document that lists Arvind Tiku as a beneficial owner.

Today, he is the Founder and Group Chairman of AT Capital Pte Ltd, a Singapore private equity company, with $2.5 billion in assets spread across sectors such as real estate, hospitality, natural resources, engineering, and construction.

Responding to questions from The Indian Express, Hywel Phillip, General Counsel, AT Capital Pte Ltd, said: “Mr. Tiku has been a Non-Resident Indian since 1998. The AT Capital group is not an owner of KSS Global. The AT Capital group sold its interest in KSS in 2018 at the same time as other shareholders including Goldman Sachs.”

Tiku set up The Sai Charan Trust in Channel Islands, Guernsey, in August 2011. The trustee of Sai Charan Trust is Standard Chartered Trust (Guernsey) Limited. It’s a discretionary trust set up for estate planning of Tiku, who is also the ‘Settlor’ and ‘Ultimate Beneficial Owner’. In simple words, he owns all assets assigned to the Trust. His wife Niharika Tiku is the ‘Protector’ of the trust, according to the documents. Auctus Investments is the account holder for the trust.

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While a ‘Settlor’ is a person who sets up the trust, a ‘Protector’ generally supervises the trustee. The trustee, in this case, Standard Chartered Trust (Guernsey) Ltd, administers all the affairs of the trust based on the instructions of the ‘Settlor’ – Arvind Tiku.

Phillip said the AT Capital group is held by two irrevocable discretionary trusts, of which The Sai Charan Investment Holding Trust is one. “The beneficiaries of the trusts settled by Mr Tiku include only himself and his immediate family members and no other persons,” he said.

To a question if all assets were declared, Phillip said, “All relevant assets/ income required to be disclosed to the Income-Tax department in India, Singapore and/or any other tax jurisdictions have been declared and paid.”

Auctus Investments, the BVI company, incorporated in February 2013, owns the investment portfolio kept with Standard Chartered Bank’s branches in Hong Kong and Singapore. This includes cash accounts, bonds, equities, and mutual funds, valued at $199.7 million. The trustee to Sai Charan Trust – Standard Chartered Trust (Guernsey) Ltd – provided nominee shareholders, directors, and secretaries for Auctus Investments, all for a fee. Arvind Tiku and the trustee are named the ‘beneficial owners’ of this investment company.

Auctus Investments is the sole shareholder in several companies, including two BVI companies, Starlet Group Holdings Inc and Swift Ventures Assets Ltd.

These two BVI companies have been set up primarily to own real estate assets and bank accounts in the United Kingdom, and the ‘beneficial owner’ for both is The Sai Charan Trust. Starlet, the documents show, owns a $34.7 million property in London, and Swift a $1.9 million property, again in London.

Besides these two, Auctus Investments and Arvind Tiku, are also named the ‘beneficial owners’ of AT Investments Ltd, which holds assets with an estimated value of $26 million. Tiku is also the beneficial owner of Darley Central Asia Ltd, whose name was changed to Painite Holdings Ltd, effective April 2017, since its investment was not in Asia.

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