#PanamaPapersIndia Part 6: Metal scrap dealer to NRIs in USA and Dubaihttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/panama-papers-india-list-6-metal-scrap-dealer-to-nris-in-usa-and-dubai-bharmal-lodha-samaresh-chakrabarti-amrendra-kumar-gopal-anand-2783125/

#PanamaPapersIndia Part 6: Metal scrap dealer to NRIs in USA and Dubai

Among those who got Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca to open offshore companies before RBI introduced the Liberalised Remittance Scheme.

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The Panama Papers sixth list for Indians includes names of Bharmal Lodha, Arshad Yusuf Wahedna, Upma Chauhan, Samaresh Chakrabarti, Amrendra Kumar and more.

Bharmal Lodha

Offshore entity: Dependable Investments Ltd

Location: British Virgin Islands (BVI)

Bharmal Lodha is a director and shareholder in the company that was incorporated on January 2, 1996. On December 1, 2000, Lodha was issued two share certificates, the first representing one share and the second representing 7,999 shares. On the same day, he was also appointed a director. Mossack Fonseca (MF) documents describe his profession as ‘merchant’. On October 20, 2010, Lodha signed a resolution that the Register of Directors and Register of Members be adopted as the original RoD and RoM of the company.

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Lodha was appointed as director by Hemendra Narharilal Patel, an NRI with a Kowloon address, who was himself appointed as a director in the company on January 29, 1996. On the same day, he was issued one share and subsequently issued 1,999 shares on December 1, 2000. In February 2012, Louis Lai & Luk, a Certified Public Accountant representing Dependable informed MF that the company will not pay the annual licence fee and registered agent fee for 2012 and will let the BVI government strike it off for non-payment. It also resigned as administrator for Dependable. The company was struck off the register on October 31, 2012.

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RESPONSE: “Dependable Investments Limited, British Virgin Islands, was set up by my former employer Hemendra Patel. He is an NRI. I was employed with him at a steel firm in Dubai in 2000. He used my name as a director and shareholder. I don’t know why he floated the company. I don’t know whether RBI permission was sought to incorporate the company. I was an NRI between 1998 and 2001 and was not required to disclose the information to income-tax authorities. I contacted Patel recently and he told me that the company was closed a long time ago. I have asked him for the closure certificate and he said that he is currently in Hong Kong and would send it to me once he is back in India.”

– Srinath Rao/Mumbai

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Arshad Yusuf Wahedna & Upma Chauhan
Offshore entity: Blakemore Consulting Corporation
Location:BVI

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Arshad Yusuf Wahedna and Upma Chauhan are shareholders in Blakemore Consulting Corporation. Both were issued one share each on May 10, 2000. Arshad was appointed director on July 28, 1999 and Upma on June 14, 2000. The address provided when they set up the company was Prebon Yamane (India) Limited, but Arshad no longer works there. Upma is the sister of Vijay Choraria, managing director, Prebon Yamane.

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Signatures of Wahedna and Chauhan on a Blackmore resolution

Arshad and Upma ceased to be shareholders in Blakemore on April 30, 2010. The shares were transferred to Padam Baid, 604, Al Rolla Street, Al Rolla Plaza, Bur Dubai, as per a resolution by all directors dated April 30, 2010.

Since the incorporation of Blakemore, Upma and Arshad were issued a share each, valued on the date of the resolution at GBP 25,000 each. Padam Baid made available certain “facilities” to Blakemore worth GBP 50,000. Upma and Arshad transferred their shares to Padam Baid in exchange for the cancellation of the debt. Both resigned on April 30, 2010. Arshad is a shareholder in another BVI company called Esytel Commercial SA. He was issued 500 shares on March 17, 2003. He was issued 1,000 shares on July 11, 2005. He ceased to be a member on September 5, 2006, after he was issued 500 shares. Another 500 shares were issued to Forbes Partners Corp.

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This company ceased to be a member on March 11, 2008.

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Arshad is a shareholder in a third company Chrysanthemum Limited in Seychelles in which he has 53 shares. He has provided a Dubai address. The second shareholder in the company is Gaurav Goel with 43 shares and a Dubai address.

RESPONSE: Vijay Choraria refused to provide a forwarding address or email ID for his sister Upma. “She has been an NRI for at least 20 years and used to work as a physiotherapist in the USA. She is married and has two children. My sister is a simple, middle-class person,” said Choraria.

-Srinath Rao/Mumbai

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Samaresh Chakrabarti

Offshore entity: Robbins Investments Ltd
Location: BVI

On October 1, 1997, the company was incorporated and Samaresh Chakrabarti issued one share. Rima Chakrabarti, listed as his daughter with a New York address, was also issued a share on the same day. Both were appointed as directors on October 1, 1997.

At a meeting held on July 6, 2003, the appointment of Rittick Chakrabarti as a director was confirmed. Rima acted as chairman during the meeting and Samaresh as secretary. The meeting also resolved to issue one share to Rittick, who also listed a New York address. He was issued one share on July 6, 2003. Accordingly, Rittick provided a letter giving consent to act as a director on the same day. Samaresh Chakrabarti died in 2012.

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RESPONSE: Samaresh’s brother, Amaresh Chakrabarti, who retired in 2015 from the Reliance facility in Jamnagar, said: “Samaresh worked with Reckitt and Colman and several other companies. His daughter (Rima) and son (Rittick) live in New York. I have never heard of Robbins Investments Ltd. I am not in touch with Rima and Rittick.”

-Aniruddha Ghosal & Esha Roy/ Kolkata

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Thomas Peediakkal Parambil Mathew & Pirwani Abdul Kadar Kasambhai

Offshore entity: Pamkind Ltd
Location: Bahamas

On February 8, 2001, Pamkind was incorporated, and Thomas Mathew and Pirwani Abdul Kadar Kasambhai issued one share each and appointed directors.

Mathew has been working in Indonesia for the last two years. He worked for a firm in Bahrain in the 1990s before moving to the UK and back to Alappuzha in Kerala. Later, Mathew went to Malaysia and returned to Alappuzha before moving to Indonesia.

Kadar Pirwani is a resident of Adamji Nagar in Vartej village on the outskirts of Bhavnagar city. Pirwani, who studied up to Class VIII, helped his father in the family business of brick kilns before entering the ship-breaking industry in 1990-91. He partnered with Ajay Kumar Bhatia of Punjab and started recycling ships under the banner Baldev Shipbreakers at the Alang yard in Bhavnagar.

Gujarat Maritime Board took possession of the plot of Baldev Shipbreakers in 2001-02, says Pirwani, adding that the matter is pending in Gujarat High Court. Pirwani said he now trades in metal scrap while Bhatia has settled in Dubai.

RESPONSE: Pirwani said he came in contact with Mathew after deciding to form a shell company. “We incorporated a company to purchase ships. But the company couldn’t do any business and we closed it down within two years. Mathew was a broker who provided the service of incorporating offshore companies. We gave him around Rs 1 lakh and provided details of my passport for setting up the company. He also became a director. We chose the Bahamas as one could set up a company there with a capital of just $1 and because ships were available there. He spent around Rs 50,000 for incorporating the company kept the balance Rs 50,000 as his profit for the services provided,” said Pirwani.

“The company never did any business. I did not even receive papers of its incorporation. Matthew told me that the formality of setting up the firm had been completed. After the recycling plot was taken away from us by the GMB, we defaulted on a bank loan and decided to close down Pamkind Limited,” said Pirwani. Asked if he obtained RBI permission, Pirwani said, “It was not an investment. I had given the money to Mathew for setting up the new company. Even if it is treated as investment in an overseas company, the amount was just $1, which would not require RBI permission.”

“Almost all ship-breakers have an overseas firm since incorporating one is so cheap. Plus, in the event of a ship capsizing or its operation being halted due to any claim, the liability will be just $1,” he said.

When contacted on April 28, Thomas Mathew’s wife Asha Thomas said: “He might have launched the firm in the Bahamas when he was in the UK in the early 2000s. But it did not take off. He might have registered the firm but not undertake any business activity. I don’t know anything more,’’ she said. Thomas declined to provide Mathew’s contact details in Indonesia and said she had asked him “to call you back’. He is yet to respond.

-Shaju Philip/Alappuzha & Gopal Kateshiya/Bhavnagar

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Ajit Gordhandas Uttamchandani & Sushmita Ajit Uttamchandani

Offshore entity: Supernova Associates Inc
Location: Bahamas

Ajit and Sushmita Uttamchandani were issued three shares each of Supernova on April 19, 2001. The company had earlier issued bearer shares on June 2, 1998. But a board meeting on April 19, 2001 annulled the bearer shares and issued six shares to both. The existing M&AA (Memorandum and Articles of Association) were revoked and new one adopted. Keynes Ltd and Walden Ltd, directors in the company, were represented by their executives. Minutes of the meeting of directors on June 2, 1998 shows that two bearer shares were issued and a Power of Attorney granted to Ajit and Sushmita. Even then, Keynes Ltd and Walden Ltd were directors and represented by their executives. The change from bearer shares to shares in the name of the owners was a result of new legal curbs in the Bahamas.

On July 24, 2012, Supernova entered into a facility agreement with Bank Leumi, UK, to borrow GBP 220,000. The board of directors provided unanimous written consent on July 27, 2012 for the agreement. The agreement was renewed on July 15, 2013 to make available an overdraft facility of GBP 180,000 to assist with the extension of the leasehold of Flat 6, Wyndham House, Bryanston Square, London. The bank sought 100 per cent asset cover and charged GBP 900 as arrangement fee. The renewed agreement was signed on July 26, 2013.

Ajit and Sushmita no longer reside at the Mumbai address provided to MF, are based in the USA and have let out their first-floor home.

RESPONSE: Gobind Tolani, a relative who handles their affairs in Mumbai, declined to provide an email address and said he would pass on the questions. They did not revert with a comment.

-Srinath Rao/Mumbai

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Raju Radhakrishna Shete

Offshore entity: Consolidated (Holdings) Ltd
Location: Bahamas

Shete holds 10 shares in Consolidated. Described as an “entrepreneur”, Shete was appointed as a director on September 3, 1999. The authorised capital of Consolidated is $10,000 (1,000 shares of $10 par value each). As per a Certificate of Incumbency issued on June 7, 2011, the shareholders of the company are Shete with 10 shares and CM Skye Trustees Ltd, the trustees of Consolidated, with 990 shares.

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Shete is listed as the shareholder of Consolidated Ltd

Lalit Kumar Khanna is one of the three directors, the other two being Park Ltd and Stone Ltd.

RESPONSE: “Consolidated Holdings Limited was established when I was not a resident of India. During that period, I was engaged in operating a food services business internationally. I held shares in this company and was also a director on the board of the company, and both these facts have been disclosed to the regulatory authorities concerned, and are a part of my relevant income-tax filings in India. This company is no longer in existence,” said Shete.

-Rohit Alok/Mumbai

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Amrendra Kumar

Offshore entity: Ingold Resources Ltd
Location: BVI

Ingold was incorporated on February 26, 2001 and issued 50,000 bearer shares on April 4, 2001. MF records show that these shares were transferred to Amrendra Kumar, then listed as a resident of Moscow, on March 9, 2010. Records also show that Kumar is the beneficial owner of Ingold.

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MF document lists Kumar as beneficiary owner, lists Gurgaon address

The other listed address of Amrendra is in Gurgaon, which is a bungalow that was under renovation when The Indian Express visited on April 27. No one was available for comment at the address, but when Amrendra’s father Ram Nath Singh was contacted on a telephone number provided by neighbours, he denied any knowledge of Ingold and said that his son was working in Dubai.

Mossack Fonseca (MF) records show that Ingold entered into a Trade Finance Security Agreement dated October 8, 2001 with BNP Paribas (Suisse) SA and the discharge date was February 2, 2014.

RESPONSE: “I’ll not be able to respond to your emails but let me tell you that I have been an NRI for over 25 years now,” said Amrendra Kumar over phone.

-Abhishek Angad/New Delhi

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Mohan Thadani & Arjun Thadani

Offshore entity: Mitarj International Corp
Location: Seychelles

On January 12, 2004, Mohan Thadani and Arjun Thadani were issued 2,500 shares each. The capital of the company is $5,000 comprising 5,000 shares of $1 each. Mohan and Arjun were appointed as directors on December 31, 2003. Karamjit Singh Bahal was issued the power of attorney (PoA) to manage the company without any limitation. Subsequently, Arjun changed his address from Mumbai to Nigeria. USA Corporate Services Inc, Albany, New York, is the intermediary that facilitated the setting up of the offshore entity by the Thadanis. The company’s activity was described as “to open accounts to hold the funds of shareholders”.

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Due to lack of any activity, the company proposed to wind up and dissolve. The liquidator was Fides Liquidator Inc, provided by MF and located at Mossfon Building in Panama. The liquidation was authorised by the unanimous vote of all shareholders on September 12, 2012. They also provided a letter on September 12, 2012, indemnifying MF and Fides Liquidator against all lawsuits, claims, etc. On October 14, 2012, the Thadanis gave a letter certifying that all bank accounts opened under the name of the company had been closed. They also attached relevant letters from banks. All transactions performed and agreements executed by the company have been concluded. They certified that the company has no further commercial activities and has disposed of all assets and liabilities. They added that the company will continue to discharge or pay or provide for the payment of all claims, debts, liabilities and obligations in full. Mitarj International Corporation was finally dissolved on December 10, 2012.

RESPONSE: “I became a non-resident in 1981 and still am. Mitarj International Corporation, Seychelles, was wound up many years ago. I have complied with all laws of India,” said Mohan Thadani.

-Srinath Rao/Mumbai

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Gopal Anand

Offshore entity: Project and Management Services Ltd
Location: BVI

Project and Management Services Limited was registered and incorporated on August 7, 1997. Gopal Anand held all 100 ordinary shares since August 15, 1997. It was struck off the register on April 30, 2015.

Anand, 70, is an MBA from XLRI who worked for over 40 years from 1974 in Africa as a management consultant. He no longer resides in the Bengaluru address listed in MF files but lives elsewhere in the city, along with his wife Tara.

Records with the Registrar of Companies show that an Indian firm Ojas Diamonds Pvt Ltd — with Tara and Mumbai industrialist P D Jhaveri as partners — was registered in September 1990 at the same address listed in MF files. A January 2000 Memorandum of Association of a medical transcription firm called New Planet Solutions Pvt Ltd, where Anand is a director, also shows the address listed by MF for the BVI entity.

RESPONSE: “I specialised in rescuing sick companies in Africa. I have been an NRI since 1974 and only moved back here a couple of years ago. I started Project Management Services at a cost of $ 500 to provide consultancy services to rescue African companies. I was based abroad and did not move any money from India to the firm. The firm is closed now. I have been residing in India and paying taxes here over the last two years,” Gopal Anand said.

“Since I was working in Africa I was not paying taxes in India until two years ago and there was no requirement for clearances from India to set up PMS. I stopped running the firm which was providing managerial services to companies in Africa around five to six years ago,’’ Anand said.

– Johnson TA/Bengaluru

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Ashok Bahecharbhai Patel

Offshore entity: Rollicks Holdings Ltd
Location: BVI

On July 31, 2001, Ratilal Bahecharbhai Patel and Ashok Bahecharbhai Patel were issued one share each in Rollicks. On May 24, 2004, Neeraj Ratilal Patel was issued one share. Ratilal and Ashok ceased to be shareholders and directors on February 2, 2007 and May 24, 2004, respectively. Neeraj Ratilal Patel was appointed a director on May 24, 2004 and Pramila Ratilal Patel as a director on July 29, 2004.

Both have a Zambia address listed. Ashok Ramniklal Modi was appointed a director on February 1, 2007. Neeraj and Pramila became shareholders on May 24, 2004 and February 7, 2007, respectively.

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RESPONSE: At his listed Mumbai address, The Indian Express was told that Ashok Patel was out of the country. A questionnaire was handed over to his wife on April 26. Patel is yet to respond.

– Rohit Alok/Mumbai

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Behram Bomani Dubash

Offshore entity: Zen Services Ltd
Location: Bahamas

Behram Dubash was issued 5,000 shares in Zen Services Limited on December 21, 1998. He ceased to be a shareholder on November 14, 2011. The 5,000 shares were issued to The Ramesh Foundation at the address C/O Domar Heiligkreuz, 6 9990 Vaduz, Liechtenstein, on November 14, 2011.

The company has two directors: Exchange Nominees Limited, appointed on January 17, 2001, and Raztron Limited, appointed on December 21, 1998 — both carry the same Isle of Man address. It was struck off the register for non-payment of licence fees, but restored on March 10, 2003.

RESPONSE: Dubash does not reside at the listed Mumbai address and is based in the USA. “I have been a Non-Resident Indian for many years. This company was set up during the period that I was an NRI and did not require any RBI permission or income-tax reporting. In any case, the company was dissolved years ago,” said Dubash, in response to a questionnaire handed over to his son Tuhad Dubash.

-Srinath Rao/Mumbai

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Gandhi Hareshkumar Dwarakadas

Offshore entity: Northglenn Group Ltd
Location: BVI

Hareshkumar was issued one share in Northglenn on January 18, 2001, and was appointed a director the same day. Gandhi Viral Haresh, with an Australia address and two passports listed, was issued 49,999 shares on April 3, 2001.

On March 30, 2001, Dwarakadas wrote to the company’s board of directors forwarding remittance of $49,999 as deposit for shares of $1 each with a request to allot the shares. A Certificate of Incumbency of April 9, 2001, states that Dwarakadas was appointed a director on January 18, 2001 and held 50,000 shares of $1 each.

RESPONSE: The Indian Express was not allowed entry at the listed Mumbai address of Dwarakadas. He is yet to respond to a questionnaire handed over at the gate on April 26.

-Rohit Alok/Mumbai

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Darab Dubash

Offshore entity: Al Arkan Trading (Europe) Ltd
Location: Bahamas

Darab Dubash was appointed a director of Al Arkan on April 30, 1998 and resigned on September 26, 2005. On May 25, 1998, Darab Dubash was allotted 1,200 shares of $1 each. On the same day, JDO Secretaries Ltd was allotted 800 shares of $1 each. On October 13, 2000, Dubash transferred his shares to JDO Secretaries Ltd.

On November 15, 2005, the board of directors noted that the beneficial owner (Dubash) had requested that the shares be transferred to Savoy Oak Foundation with an address at Liechtenstein and that the company’s bank accounts held at HSBC in Isle of Man be closed. On November 10, 2011, it was resolved that as per Dubash’s request, on completion of liquidation of Savoy Oak Foundation, the shares be transferred to Dubash again and on to Julius Baer Trust Company (New Zealand). It was also resolved that a bank account in the company’s name be opened at Bank Julius Baer & Co Ltd, Guernsey — and that on receipt of new account numbers, the balance in the HSBC accounts be transferred directly to the new account at Bank Julius Baer & Co Ltd.

RESPONSE: Dubash does not reside at the Mumbai address listed at the time of incorporation of Al Arkan Trading and stays mostly in the USA. “I have been a Non-Resident Indian for the past 20 years. This company was set up when I was a non-resident Indian, therefore Reserve Bank of India and income-tax reporting was not required. I ceased to own any shares in this company several years ago,” said Dubash, in response to a questionnaire handed over to his son Arvind Dubash.

-Srinath Rao/Mumbai

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Nirmala Murthy

Offshore entity: Meru Group Ltd
Location: BVI

Meru was incorporated on March 4, 2003, with 50,000 shares allotted at $1 par value each. Nirmala was director from March 5, 2003 to January 7, 2011. She was also issued one share on March 5, 2003. On December 30, 2010, Nirmala wrote to Meru, seeking to transfer her share of no par value to Abi Murthy and Karun Rajasekharan, both with USA addresses. A Certificate of Incumbency issued on June 15, 2015 described Nirmala as a shareholder and a director in Meru.

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Murthy’s signature on a Meru document; she denied link

On June 12, 2015, Pearlmans Solicitors of London, acting on behalf of Abi Murthy and Karun Rajasekharan, wrote to MF about the sale of a property at 12 Central Park Lodge, 54-58, Bolsover Street, London. “Our attached BVI company search reveals that you are the registered agents of the company. In order for us to complete our compliance procedures, can you please send us a certificate of incumbency detailing the names of the registered directors and shareholders of Meru Group Limited. Please also let have any further information which you consider relevant impeding the sale of the above property by the company,” stated the letter by the solicitor to MF & Co. Abi and Karun are also linked to Meru Associates Ltd which, according to a MF-issued Certificate of Incumbency of November 11, 2003, is shown as Meru Group Ltd’s secretary. Meru Associates Ltd is a management consulting firm in the UK.

RESPONSE: “I have no clue about this. I don’t know who Abi and Karun are. The name and address you have given is correct but I am 80 years old. I retired from service as a teacher from Avinashilingam University in Coimbatore,” said Nirmala Murthy. Avinashilingam is a deemed university in Coimbatore, started in 1957 by the Avinashilingam Educational Trust.

-Arun Janardhanan/ Chennai

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Sumant Gaurishanker Daftary & Vasumati Sumant Daftary

Offshore entity: Lila International Ltd
Location: BVI

Lila was incorporated on April 15, 2002 with Sumant and Vasumati as the first directors. Both held 50 shares each at a par value of $1 per share. On November 10, 2005, both transferred the shares to Barfield Nominees Ltd. On the same day, Sumant resigned as secretary and their daughter Mala-Sonya Sumant Daftary was appointed managing director. On July 8, 2014, Mala-Sonya, a US citizen with an Egypt address, acquired 100 shares from Barfield Nominees. MF papers list Mala-Sonya’s occupation as “consultant”.

Vasumati passed away on February 20, 2015 while Sumant resides at their listed Mumbai address with his daughter.

RESPONSE: “No comments,” said Mala-Sonya, in response to a questionnaire handed over to her at the Mumbai address.

-Srinath Rao/ Mumbai

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Ismail Umarbhai Hukkawala & Aziza Ismail Hukkawala

Offshore entity: Hina Investments Pvt Ltd
Location: BVI

Hina was incorporated on September 9, 1997, and two bearer certificates, each representing 1,250 shares, were issued. On May 31, 2001, 1,250 shares were transferred each to Ismail and his wife Aziza. On May 31, 2004, Aziza received all 2,500 shares. From December 12, 2004, all shares were transferred to Professional Nominees Ltd (till September 9, 2005) and Jupiter Nominees Incorporated (till August 3, 2007). The shares are now held by Minerva Trust Company Ltd. All companies have the same address: 43/45 La Motte Street St. Helier, JE4 8SD, Jersey. Cidel Bank and Trust Inc (Barbados) acted as the trustees for Hinas Trust, the sole shareholder of the company on June 15, 2006.

Ismail Hukkawala died in Abu Dhabi in 2005. Aziza returned to Sabarkantha in Gujarat where she lives with her daughter and son-in-law Shafi Zaaz, a businessman. Hukkawala was employed with state-owned Bank of Baroda and was posted in Abu Dhabi. Zaaz said Hukkawala quit BoB and joined National Bank of Abu Dhabi. He was a chartered accountant and acted as a consultant after retirement, said Zaaz.

RESPONSE: Hukkawala’s son-in-law Shafi Zaaz said: “We have not received any communication from any bank or any government agencies. After he (Hukkawala) passed away due to a heart attack, my mother-in-law returned to Modasa and since then we are living together. Her other three children live in the US.”

-Satish Jha/Ahmedabad

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Chotumati Chimanbhai Patel

Offshore entity: Dustan Investments Ltd
Location: Bahamas

Chotumati Chimanbhai Patel holds one share in Dustan Investments Ltd, a company incorporated on June 5, 2000.

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RESPONSE: Chotumati Patel was not available at the address listed in Vadodara. A woman, at another Vadodara address listed in MF files, said that she did not know Chimanbhai Patel.

-Aditi Raja/Vadodara

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