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Wednesday, May 18, 2022

#PanamaPapers India Part 4: Tyre dealer, boutique owner, top CA

Responses: No idea about any overseas company; all rules complied with; ‘chase corrupt Indians, not those who are citizens of other countries’. And silence.

By: Express News Service |
Updated: April 7, 2016 8:10:57 pm

panamaM/s Trimblesh ‘N’ Savas

Overseas entity: The Mine Tyre & Truck Services Group Pvt Ltd
Location: BVI

Mossack Fonseca documents show that M/s Trimblesh ‘N’ Savas — it is a company that trades in specialised tyres and is owned by Delhi businessman Viney Krishan Chaudhri — owned all 100 shares in The Mine Tyre & Truck Service Group Pvt Ltd (BVI) ever since it was incorporated in the British Virgin Islands on August 20, 2009.

pana2 A New Delhi address has been listed for M/s Trimblesh ‘N’ Savas in the MF papers

Chaudhri also owns Radials International, and was a director of M/s Tip Top General Agencies Pvt Ltd till September 2011. The Mine Tyre & Truck Service Group Pvt Ltd (BVI), according to MF, was struck off on April 30, 2012.

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Chaudhri’s companies, according to the website of Radials International, deal in earthmover tyres and “have successfully introduced the Michelin Radial Technology to every major mining company in India”.

RESPONSE: In an email, Chaudhri said: “In 2009, we set out to examine the possibility of obtaining a distressed EM tyre retreading asset in Australia, being offered by Rio Tinto. To pursue this proposal, a couple of trips were made to Australia and in order to accomplish this transaction, we did open a BVI company. However, as it was a competitive bid, we lost out to a German company that finally took over the asset. We could not secure the deal. Consequently, as there was no business ever transacted, no investments made and as we could not attain anything overseas that we did set out to do, the company was automatically struck off the BVI register.”

— Jay Mazoomdaar/New Delhi


Chinnamaruthu Shanmuga Sundarapandian

Overseas entities: Panasia Star Ltd, Wir Fashion Holding Pvt Ltd
Location: BVI

Chinnamaruthu Shanmuga Sundarapandian, a director in two offshore companies in the BVI called Panasia Star Ltd and Wir Fashion Holding Private Ltd, lives in Choolaimedu, a middle-class neighbourhood in Chennai. His name was added as shareholder in the two companies in March 2015, the MF papers show.

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Sundarapandian claimed ignorance of the two companies. “I do not have any idea about these companies. It was my younger brother Deenathayala Pandian who added me as he didn’t want to have an outside partner. I was told that it is a Hong Kong-based company. He asked my permission, I agreed, I had given my passport number too for the purpose,” he said.

MF records, however, show that both brothers signed the consent forms. “If at all there are two companies, they are not illegal, we are not billionaires or money swindlers. We are traditionally a family that focuses on social service and cultural activities and I myself and my brother are writers too,” Sundarapandian said.

Sundarapandian initially said he is an exporter of textile products, but later said he works for a Singapore-based company that is a supplier of electronic items. He often travels to Singapore, Sundarapandian said.

Sundarapandian said his brother Deenathayala Pandian, who is three years younger to him, had been a journalist and writer for leading Tamil publications. “Later we started a magazine called Kazhugu. We had to close it due to threats from politicians as it had been daringly writing against powerful corrupt politicians. Once they even burnt our printing press,” he said.

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Asked how or why a journalist might open offshore companies, he said the question should be put to his brother’s boss. But he refused to say who the “boss” was. “I don’t know anything, he (the brother) added me and I agreed,” he repeated.

Deenathayala Pandian, a well known real estate businessman in Chennai, runs Kaviyan Foundation, an organisation “determined in enhancing the quality of life among the rural under-privileged section of our society”. According to Sundarapandian, Deenathayala Pandian runs his operations from Madurai and Chennai. “He often travels outside India too. Right now he is abroad,” he said.

Deenathayala Pandian could not be reached. Sundarapandian said he would ask his younger brother to call back this reporter, but did not subsequently respond to calls.



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Uday Pratap Singh

Overseas entity: Steel Engineering Limited
Location: BVI

Uday Pratap Singh was a shareholder of Steel Engineering Limited, a company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands on July 19, 2007. One Umesh Somani held all 1,000 shares of the company since its incorporation. The shares were transferred to Uday Pratap Singh in 2011. Steel Engineering Limited (BVI) was struck off on April 30, 2012, according to the MF papers.

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RESPONSE: Uday Pratap Singh said, “I have no idea about the company. It is the first time I am hearing the name. I am in India. I have not purchased any share.”



Uday Pratap Singh

Overseas entity: Steel Engineering Limited
Location: BVI

Uday Pratap Singh was a shareholder of Steel Engineering Limited, a company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands on July 19, 2007. One Umesh Somani held all 1,000 shares of the company since its incorporation. The shares were transferred to Uday Pratap Singh in 2011. Steel Engineering Limited (BVI) was struck off on April 30, 2012, according to the MF papers.

pana1 Singh became a director in March 2011

RESPONSE: Uday Pratap Singh said, “I have no idea about the company. It is the first time I am hearing the name. I am in India. I have not purchased any share.”



Sylvia Fay Bhatia & Alok Bhatia

Overseas entities: Hazelwood Enterprises Limited, Others
Location: British Virgin Islands

Mossack Fonseca documents show that Sylvia Fay Bhatia owns at least five companies in the British Virgin Islands either herself or with her husband Alok Bhatia. The address given is of Saket, New Delhi. Sylvia is the daughter of Australian mining billionaire Chris Wallin.

Since September 2004, Mossack Fonseca records show, Sylvia has been the director and sole shareholder in Comme Trading Limited which, in turn, is director and sole shareholder in Watami Trading Limited. Both companies were incorporated in the BVI in April 2004.

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According to the documents, Comme also became sole shareholder of Giant Gold Holdings Limited (BVI), which was previously held by a bearer share, in September 2004. Between September 2004 and June 2007, Comme also held shares of Asian Coal Holdings Limited (BVI). The shares were transferred to Coal PTY Limited (Australia).

Mossack Fonseca records that in October 2005, Sylvia changed her surname — Wallin to Bhatia — and her Australian passport number. In September 2009, she set up Lombard Global Group Limited (BVI) as the sole shareholder. In March 2011, the shares were transferred to Watami Trading, also owned by her through Comme Trading.

In October 2006, Sylvia became sole shareholder of Hazelwood Enterprises Limited, a company incorporated in the BVI in August that year. Husband Alok became 50 per cent stakeholder in August 2008. Documents submitted in March 2015 show that they held 100 shares each.

pna3 In 2006, Sylvia Fay Bhatia became sole shareholder of Hazelwood

In May 2014, Mossack Fonseca-BVI said “as a Corporate Service Provider… bound to observe the respective anti-money laundering laws”, it required basic due diligence information on these companies. The Mossack Fonseca-Hong Kong office, however, asked the BVI office to wait. “We will ask the DD (due diligence) from this client when they have any new request of their companies,” it wrote in an email on December 19, 2014.

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 RESPONSE: Sylvia and Alok Bhatia did not respond to a questionnaire which was delivered by hand at their Saket residence in New Delhi.

Jay Mazoomdaar/New Delhi


Johnny Manglani

Offshore entities: JM Group of Companies Ltd, Others
Location: BVI, Cyprus

A major player in men’s fashion clothing, Johnny Manglani has registered a host of offshore entities in the BVI and Cyprus. There are almost 1,000 MF documents listed for one of them, JM Group of Companies Ltd, which was registered in 2007, including records of at least seven other Cyprus firms of which it is shown as the holding company. Manglani’s wife Elmira and daughters Anita and Dasha are listed as shareholders of JM Group of Companies Ltd.

panama4 JM Group of Companies was incorporated in the BVI in 2007

An MF mail from 2013 shows that all these companies trade in fashion garments from Italian manufacturers such as Corneliani, Artioli, Belvest, Dalmine and Raffaele Caruso Hettabretz, and the French company Zilli. Manglani runs at least 12 Italian couture boutiques in Russia, with other stores opening in Macau and Singapore.

Manglani has also set up another company, Uomo Collezioni Corporation, which is also the name of his flagship stores abroad. It was set up in 2007 in the BVI with the holding company JM Group of Companies Ltd as its shareholder. All the shares of another company, Hepworth Investments Ltd, have been pledged to the holding company.

MF documents show that in July 2011 he arranged for a revolving overdraft facility of Euro 2.5 million from a Bank in Cyprus. Documents show the revolving overdraft was taken in the name of Jadem Limited with the “purpose” of financing working capital needs (purchase of inventory) relating to trading of fashion garments in Russia under the Uomo Collezioni trademark. The guarantor for the agreement is Manglani himself. Manglani’s Mumbai address islisted in several other company incorporation documents and the passport provided to MF.

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RESPONSE: Manglani said: “I am a Singaporean citizen and want to clarify that I am not aware of the information below (the questions sent to him)… I highly recommend that you chase corrupt Indian citizens and crooked businessmen rather than Singaporeans…”



Nish Bhutani

Offshore entity: Arts Alliance Media BVI Ltd
Location: BVI

Nish Bhutani, global head of product at Vuclip, a US-based online video-on-demand firm, held 3.41 per cent, or 34,583 ordinary shares of $ 0.01 value each, in Arts Alliance Media BVI Ltd. The company was incorporated on April 17, 2003 in the BVI. His residence mentioned in the Mossack Fonseca documents is 26 Ridge Road, Malabar Hill, Mumbai. The bulk of the shareholding in the company — 81.55% or 827,416 shares — is with a company called Cheetah International Investments Ltd, headquartered in Guernsey.

Bhutani joined Vuclip in March this year. The company has recently launched its online streaming service Viu in India. Before joining Vuclip, Bhutani was senior vice president of online retailer Between September 2008 and June 2015, he was the chief operating officer of Saffronart, the world’s largest online auctioneer for fine art and collectibles. Bhutani moved Saffronart to a tech platform. Since then, Saffronart has held several highly successful online auctions, accompanied by physical catalogues and preview events in cities like Mumbai, New Delhi, New York, London and Hong Kong. Bhutani has also co-founded London-based Arts Alliance Media, which runs the largest digital cinema network outside the US. He was on the board and senior management of Lovefilm, Europe’s largest online movie subscription service, which was acquired by Amazon.

RESPONSE: When contacted, Bhutani told The Indian Express, “I have been a US citizen since 1999, and moved to India in 2008. These shares were given to me by my employer as part of an employee incentive plan, when I was working in the UK. As I am now an Indian resident, these shares have been fully disclosed to the Indian tax authorities as part of my foreign assets declaration.”



Dilip J Thakkar

Dinesh Parameswaran Nair

Offshore entity: Geldin Trading Co.
Location: BVI

Dinesh Parameswaran Nair belongs to Ranni village in Kerala’s Pathanamthitta district. The son of a small-time copra (desiccated coconut) trader left home after graduation and worked for several years in Mumbai before moving to Hong Kong in 2008.

Documents in the MF files show Dinesh Parameswaran Nair as a director of a company called Geldin Trading Co. which was incorporated in the BVI on August 17, 2007. The Certificate of Incumbency shows that he has 25,000 shares in the company along with a Chinese national.

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Dinesh’s wife Jayasree lives in a small house with two children, both under 10 years of age. She declined to say anything. A local source said Dinesh frequently visits his family in Ranni, and until recently, most people thought he worked somewhere within the country. “People of the village do not know what business he is doing in Hong Kong. Now he is constructing a large house at Ranni,” the source said.

Dinesh’s relative, N G Unnikrishnan, who is overseeing the construction of the new house, refused to give Dinesh’s contact numbers. “I don’t know anything about his business activity. Without his permission, I cannot hand over his phone number,” Unnikrishnan said.



Dilip J Thakkar

Overseas entity: Kansu Corporation
Location: Bahamas

Chartered Accountant Dilip Jayantilal Thakkar, 79, is a senior partner of Jayantilal Thakkar & Co. and Jayantilal Thakkar Associates in Mumbai. He has 40 years’ experience in the field, and is on the board of at least 14 companies including Essar Oil and Essar Ports, according to Bloomberg.

According to the documents accessed by The Indian Express, Thakkar was a director of Kansu Corporation, a company registered in the Bahamas. Kansu had first issued 5,000 bearer shares on December 7, 1992, but was struck off on January 1, 2012, Mossack Fonseca documents reveal. These shares were transferred on April 3, 2001, to Falcon Secretaries Ltd, and further transferred to Dorchester International Inc on February 1, 2005.

Thakkar’s wife Indira Dilip Thakkar was a director of the firm between 2000 and 2009. She was on record by declaration of trust as being the beneficial owner of the company. Dorchester International Limited acted as a nominee shareholder for Indira since February 11, 2005, the MF documents state.

RESPONSE: In an email statement, Dilip Thakkar told The Indian Express that although he was a non-executive director of Kansu Corporation, he did not control or manage the company. “My wife Mrs Indira Dilip Thakkar was never a director of Kansu Corporation. That Company was sponsored by my wife’s parents family who are Non Residents for more than five decades. My wife, Indira was also a Non Resident before our marriage. The bearer shares referred to by you belonged to the said Non Resident Family. The declaration of trust they may have filed referred to my wife as ultimate beneficial owner and not beneficial owner of the company. Their idea was that if anything happens to the family, in that event my wife becomes the Ultimate Beneficiary. Since that event never happened, and the Company is closed, my wife never got beneficial interest in that company. She never invested any of her funds in that company,” he said.

Thakkar also said that the Income-Tax Department had looked into Kansu Corporation a few years back. “On getting the correct facts, they (I-T department) seem to have accepted the same. Since my wife was not the beneficial owner, the question of RBI permission and declaring the Company’s income to Income Tax authority does not arise,” he said.



Sushila, Prerna and Gaurav Chopra

Offshore entities: Jelenta Investments Limited, Zenith Metallik Alloys Limited
Location: BVI

The three Chopras have been shareholders of Jelenta Investments Limited since the company was set up in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) on April 9, 2010. Jelenta Investments Limited (BVI), in turn, is the shareholder of Zenith Metallik Alloys Limited, set up in the BVI on April 11, 2012. Records of both companies are kept in Hong Kong.

panam 5

Sushila, Prerna and Gaurav are also directors of Zenith Metallik Alloys Limited, an Indian company incorporated on February 18, 2011. Its authorised share capital is Rs 120,000,000, and its paid up capital is Rs 110,342,496. This had been a partnership between the members of the Chopra family from October 2006 onward.

The Indian company is described as a complete metals and ferro-alloy solutions firm that specialises in providing raw materials for a range of industries. Associated companies of Zenith Metallik Alloys Ltd (India) include Mayurbhanj Metals Limited, Lall Marketing, Chopra Tobacco Company, Lall Investments Private Ltd, and Mayur General Engineering Limited.

RESPONSE: Gaurav Chopra did not respond to phone calls and messages.


An Investigation by The Indian Express with International Consortium of Investigative Journalists & Suddeutsche Zeitung, Munich.

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