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Pandora Papers: India-Pakistan duo passed proceeds from football deals to Seychelles firm

Bengaluru-based Satyajit Sadanandan is a former FIFA grassroots instructor “specialising in sports investments and talent development”. Syed Mohsen Gilani is a Pakistani settled in Colombo and a former FIFA development officer.

Written by Jay Mazoomdaar | New Delhi |
Updated: October 8, 2021 7:44:29 am
Pandora Papers: India-Pakistan duo passed proceeds from football deals to Seychelles firmAn Express investigation into the Pandora Papers reveals how individuals and businesses are pushing the envelope to evade detection, using loopholes in the law at home and the lax jurisdiction of tax havens.

A self-styled football investor from India and a former FIFA development officer from Pakistan are partners in at least two offshore companies in Seychelles — and at least one of these firms was funded by fee for facilitating “investments in a professional football club in Denmark from India”, records in the Pandora Papers investigated by The Indian Express reveal.

Bengaluru-based Satyajit Sadanandan is a former FIFA grassroots instructor “specialising in sports investments and talent development”. Syed Mohsen Gilani is a Pakistani settled in Colombo and a former FIFA development officer.

Together, they incorporated New World Consulting International Ltd in Seychelles in August 2008 with equal ownership.

Sadanandan and Gilani, records show, incorporated a second company in Seychelles in March 2011 — Falcon Solutions GmbH. Falcon Solutions opened a USD account in Barclays Bank, Seychelles, with Sadanandan and Gilani, the two beneficial owners, as signatories.

In March 2020, Sadanandan and Gilani transferred 2.5 per cent stake each to Farhaad and Zuhra.

The duo also featured in the 2017 investigation of records in Paradise Papers by The Indian Express. At that time, records identified the two as directors of New World Sports Limited, a company incorporated in Malta, in November 2014.

In March 2020, records show, Sadanandan and Gilani transferred 2.5 per cent stake each of New World Consulting International (Seychelles) to Yenepoya Mohammed Farhaad and Fathimathul Zuhra.

Farhaad and Zuhra, who belong to the family that owns Mangalore-based Yenepoya Group, also became directors of the Seychelles company.

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A business plan signed by Sadanandan in March 2016 claimed that the Seychelles firm was funded by proceeds received from previous projects.

“We facilitated investments in a professional football club in Denmark from India and also provided both clients with strategic advisory services post the investment deal,” he wrote.

Sadanandan’s plan, with a projected annual turnover of $300,000, listed Dempo Group (India and Singapore) and FC Midtjylland A/S (Denmark) as clients.

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In 2011-12, Dempo, which also runs the I-League club Dempo FC, invested Euro 12 million to acquire a 34 per cent stake in Danish Superliga side FC Midtjylland.

According to media reports at the time, the deal was facilitated by New World Consulting, which was described as a sports management company.

The business plan, records show, was submitted for opening an account with Loyal Bank Limited of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. For this, Sadanandan also got a reference letter from the Bank of Bahrain and Kuwait in February 2016.

Incidentally, Loyal Bank was accused of aiding money laundering activities in 2018 and subsequently went into liquidation.

Apart from the Seychelles and Malta firms, Sadanandan set up New World Consulting Pvt Ltd in Vadodara in October 2008, holding 50 per cent stake along with his father.

Following his father’s death in March 2020, the shares were transferred to his mother.

In June 2017, Sadanandan and Gilani set up New World Consulting International Ltd in London. Three months later, they transferred 2.5 per cent stake each to Farhaad and Zuhra of the Yenepoya family. The UK company was dissolved in 2020.

Sadanandan, Farhaad and Zuhra did not respond to emails and messages.

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