Updated: October 9, 2021 8:45:33 am
Radhe Shyam Saraf, who owns a group of companies running a chain of Hyatt hotels in the country, has settled his properties in tax haven Belize through two trusts, according to the Pandora Papers. These also show his links and transactions in offshore destinations such as the British Virgin Islands and Liechtenstein.
According to documents of Panamanian law firm Alcogal, Saraf and his wife Ratna are settlors of The Devita Trust, Belize, which was created on April 4, 2006. The sole beneficiary of the trust is their son Umesh Saraf. A spreadsheet dated February 5, 2018, names Girish Sunder Jhunjhunwala as the trust protector. The trust is one of the shareholders of the Saraf Investments Limited, Mauritius.
An Alcogal note states that the total assets of the Saraf Investments Limited stood at USD 29.377 million as of March 31, 2010. Apart from The Devita Trust, The Varunisha Trust too was created in Belize on April 4, 2006. A certificate dated February 10, 2015, states: “We are aware of the identity of the settlors and beneficiary of the Trust and that there is no anonymous principal.” Later, it was registered as an “International Trust” on March 5, 2014, in Belize.
The beneficiary of The Varunisha Trust is Arun Saraf, also son of Radhe Shyam Saraf. Its protector is Delhi-based lawyer Gautam Khaitan, now an accused in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal.
Records show that the International Financial Services Commission (IFSC), Belize, sought details on The Varunisha Trust from Alcogal. On April 24, 2018, Alcogal wrote that Arun Kumar Saraf is “beneficial owner” of The Varunisha Trust whereas Radhe Shyam Saraf and Ratna Saraf are “settlors”. It said “to the best of our knowledge, this Trust has a property related to an agreement with ‘Saraf Hotels Limited’ whose registered office address is at IFS Court, Twenty-Eight, Cybercity, Ebene, Mauritius”.
In the Pandora Papers, Saraf’s Hong Kong address is mentioned but documents related to his trusts refer to him and his wife as Indian nationals and record their passport numbers.
A declaration by Alcogal on offshore trusts lists “Source of Funds” of The Varunisha Trust as “Personal wealth of the settlor”. And the purpose of the trust is listed as “protection of the inheritance’s assets”.
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A “supplement deed of assignment” dated March 18, 2013, by Alcogal (trustee of The Varunisha Trust), Saraf couple and Saraf Hotels Limited states that Radhe Shyam Saraf and Ratna Saraf were shareholders of the Saraf Hotels Limited, but they transferred their shares to Alcogal on January 10, 2007.
The inheritance chain is detailed in the deeds of the two trusts, listing nominees and explaining who will get what if a beneficial owner passes away. Alcogal has categorised Radhe Shyam Saraf, Ratna Saraf, Arun Saraf, Umesh Saraf as “PEP” (politically exposed persons).
There’s more in the documents on the offshore assets of the Saraf family. The Trident Trust’s ‘third party introducer company update form’, dated September 12, 2016, about one Pignolo Limited, BVI, mentions Ellenborough Global SA, BVI (incorporated on March 10, 2005, and re-registered on January 1, 2007) as shareholder and Radhe Shyam Saraf of Hong Kong as “beneficial owner”.
Responding to queries from The Indian Express, Radhe Shyam Saraf, in an email reply, said: “I would like to inform you that I am 92 years old and a resident of Hong Kong. I have been a non-resident for more than five decades. I would appreciate your understanding that planning my wealth is a personal and private matter.”
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