On April 4, as part of its ongoing investigation into The Panama Papers, The Indian Express reported that records of Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca showed that actor Amitabh Bachchan served as director of four offshore shipping companies between 1993 and 1997.
A day after the report appeared, Bachchan — he did not respond to emails and phone calls from The Indian Express — issued a statement that he did not know any of the companies, had not been a director of any of them and that “it is possible that (his) name has been misused”.
New records obtained and investigated by The Indian Express contradict Bachchan’s version.
These show that Bachchan, as director of two of these firms, took part in their board meetings “by telephone conference.”
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These meetings of Tramp Shipping Limited (Bahamas) and Sea Bulk Shipping Company Ltd (British Virgin Islands), were held on December 12, 1994.
The venue of these meetings: “38/39, The Esplanade, St Helier, Jersey, Channel Islands, JE4 8SD.”
Bachchan’s name was also recorded in the list of directors and office bearers on the Certificate of Incumbency issued by both companies.
These records relate to a $1.75-million loan from a Jeddah-based investment company that also finds mention in Mossack Fonseca records investigated by The Indian Express.
The Indian Express had reported earlier that Mossack Fonseca records show Bachchan was appointed director and managing director of Sea Bulk Shipping Company Ltd (BVI), Lady Shipping Ltd, Treasure Shipping Ltd and Tramp Shipping Ltd (Bahamas) in 1993. He was also listed under “Nombre Miembro” (member name) of these companies.
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The Indian Express sent an email to Bachchan asking him about these new revelations and what action did he contemplate taking against those he alleges had “misused” his name.
In response, his publicist emailed a statement: “On the Panama disclosures, I wish to state that queries continue to be sent to me by the media. I would humbly request them to kindly direct these to the GOI (Government of India) where I, as a law abiding citizen have already sent, and shall continue to send, my responses. I stand by my earlier statement on the ‘misuse of my name’ in the matter and in any event the press reports do not disclose any illegal act committed by me.”
According to the new records, the boards of Sea Bulk Shipping Company (BVI) and Tramp Shipping Ltd (Bahamas) passed a resolution each on December 12, 1994.
These resolutions were in connection with a loan of $1.75 million from Dallah Albaraka Investment Company (DAICO) to one Constellation Ship Management (Bahamas) Ltd for purchasing all shares issued by Tramp Shipping and held by Sea Bulk Shipping.
For the loan, MV Sea Tramp, a ship owned by Tramp Shipping Ltd (Bahamas), was mortgaged to DAICO.
Both resolutions recorded Bachchan’s participation in the board meetings “by telephone conference”.
In their Certificate of Incumbency issued the same day, both companies also recorded Bachchan as director. The companies had the same directors, including Bachchan, and officers.
When contacted, Shezi Nackvi, chief of DAICO’s London operations, declined to comment.
According to Mossack Fonseca records, Umesh Sahai of Jersey-based corporate service provider City Management Ltd (now Minerva Trust) was one of the founder directors of the four shipping companies and he appointed Amitabh Bachchan as director and managing director in 1993.
He also signed the board resolutions that recorded Bachchan’s participation in the December 12, 1994 meetings.
Sahai did not respond to emails and phone calls seeking his comment on Bachchan’s statement denying any knowledge of the companies.
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