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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Panama Papers: Among new names, telecom czar’s son, a business couple

Panama Papers: A company official, replying on behalf of Kavin Bharti Mittal, said: “KBM Global Limited is a Company set up by Kavin Bharti Mittal in the year 2008 for pursuing business activities and making investments in the tech sector. Kavin Bharti Mittal is the sole beneficial shareholder of KBM Global Limited.

Written by Ritu Sarin | New Delhi | Updated: June 21, 2018 12:07:16 pm
Panama Papers: Among new names, telecom czar’s son, a business couple Panama Papers: The building that housed law firm Mossack Fonseca in Panama City. Its secret world was uncovered in 2016. (File Photo)

Three weeks before the Panama Papers were published in April 2016, internal email exchanges in Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca revealed names of UBOs (ultimate beneficial owners) of some previously registered companies, new records show.

Among them is KBM Global Limited, a company registered in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) by Mossack Fonseca in December 2008. Email exchanges between March 16 and March 17, 2016, show that the BO (beneficial owner) of the company is Kavin Bharti Mittal, founder and CEO of Hike Messenger and son of telecom czar Sunil Bharti Mittal. His Amrita Shergill Marg, New Delhi address is mentioned in the email exchanges where the name of the BO has been inserted.

ALSO READ | Panama Papers: New records reveal fresh financial secrets of Indian clients

While KBM Global Limited figures in the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’s’database as a Mossack Fonseca company listed in the Panama Papers, there is no “officer” named. The only details available until April 2016 (when the Panama Papers were published) is that the Secretary or the intermediary of the company was Minerva Trust Company Limited and its shareholder was Minerva Nominees Limited, holding 94 shares. A second company, Anten Resources Incorporated, was shown as another shareholder of KBM Global Limited.

ALSO READ: Panama Papers: Mossack Fonseca managed three offshore firms for PVR’s Bijlis

Panama Papers: Kavin Bharti Mittal and KBM Global Limited

In the new records, there are two other sets of documents linked to Mittal and KBM Global Limited. The first shows that on October 31, 2016 — six months after the Panama Papers — a notice was published by British Virgin Islands Financial Services Commission with the information that the registered agent of the company had been changed from Mossack Fonseca to Harney’s Corporate Services Limited, both located in Tortola in the BVI.

READ | Soon after Panama Papers leak, Iqbal Mirchi’s family rejigged offshore holdings

The other set of documents show how the shareholding pattern of the two BVI companies changed in March 2016 and how 14 shares from Anten Resources were transferred to Minerva Nominees Limited, (which were) “held under declaration of Trust for Kavin Bharti Mittal”.

kavin bharti mittal panama papers Panama Papers: Hike CEO Kavin Bharti Mittal

Kavin launched Hike Messenger, a mobile messaging app, in 2012 and the company today boasts of over 100 million registered users. In August 2016, his company became the tenth Indian company to get a valuation of over $1 billion. It is funded by Bharti Softbank (BSB), a joint venture between Bharti and Japanese telecommunications company SoftBank.

ALSO READ | Panama Papers: Day after query on offshore ownership, Shishir Bajoria moved to get his name removed from records

RESPONSE: A company official, replying on behalf of Kavin Bharti Mittal, said: “KBM Global Limited is a Company set up by Kavin Bharti Mittal in the year 2008 for pursuing business activities and making investments in the tech sector. Kavin Bharti Mittal is the sole beneficial shareholder of KBM Global Limited.

Kavin Bharti Mittal is a British citizen by birth and an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI ). He became a tax resident in India on account of his presence to manage a tech start-up from the financial year 2011-12 and accordingly, the tax returns filed with the tax authorities provide full disclosure and details about his ownership of KBM Global Limited.

Minerva Trust & Corporate Services Ltd , a reputed professional service provider, is the appointed administrator of KBM Global Limited. They have informed us that they moved all their clients to Harney’s Corporate Services Limited in 2016 for registered agency services.’’

Panama Papers: Jalaj Ashwin Dani & Vita Dani

Another name to come up in the new batch of Mossack Fonseca documents is businessman Jalaj Ashwin Dani. He stepped down from his position of eminence in Asian Paints in April 2017, after 18 years in the family trade.

Several documents in the new data link Dani and his wife Vita Dani to a BVI entity called Poinsettia Group Holdings Limited. Dani is currently listed as being on the board of 38 Indian companies while his wife is on the board of nine companies and chairperson of 11Sports, a sports management company.

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A scrutiny of the new data shows that between April and July 2016, changes were made in the management of the company while Mossack Fonseca remained its Registered Agent. The intermediary company of Poinsettia Group Holdings changed from Chesterfield Management Nominees, located in the Isle of Man, to Nedgroup Private Wealth Corporate Services Limited, located in Jersey.

READ | Panama Papers: New data spills more offshore secrets of Lionel Messi, Argentina President Mauricio Macri 

Around the same time, the director companies and secretary of Poinsettia Group Holdings were also changed and reflected in the minutes of a meeting of directors of the company on July 6, 2016 in the Isle of Man.

The link of the company to the Danis is contained in several emails exchanged between Mossack Fonseca employees and the intermediaries for obtaining details of the UBOs of the company and completing the due diligence of the company in the files.

READ | Panama Papers: Data of second largest firm surfaces in new cache from Panama

The earliest documents and emails linked to Poinsettia Group Holdings Limited are dated 2014. An email dated October 12, 2016 titled””change of administratio”” reads:””we acknowledge receipt of hard copies of the passport and utility bills of the UBOs. The documentation of the gentleman is in order. However, the passport copy of the lady is illegible and her utility bill is old..””

Attached to several of these mails which have the subject matter as change of administration of Poinsettia Group Holdings are copies of passports of Jalaj Dani and Vita Dani along with telephone bills in their names, all with their Grant Road, Mumbai address.

Read full coverage of Panama Papers investigation

RESPONSE: Jalaj Ashwin Dani said: ”You will appreciate that your presumption, if any, that our investments are illegal, is ill-founded. Please note that this investment is legal and we have reported this investment in our returns to the income tax authorities as well. Hope this clarifies.’’

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