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

Panama Papers: A pioneer in multiplex cinemas in India, Ajay Bijli, along with wife Selena and son Aamer, beneficially owned an offshore company set up to hold a property in the UK.

Written by Jay Mazoomdaar | New Delhi | Updated: June 21, 2018 12:07:19 pm
Panama Papers: In April 2016, according to the latest cache of Mossack Fonseca’s internal documents, the Bijli family also held two other offshore companies through a Trust and Delhi-based Priya Exhibitors Private Limited. (Reuters/File)

Around the time the Panama Papers uncovered the secret world of Mossack Fonseca, offshore companies linked to the Bijli family of PVR Cinema fame continued to do business with the Panamanian law firm. A pioneer in multiplex cinemas in India, Ajay Bijli, along with wife Selena and son Aamer, beneficially owned an offshore company set up to hold a property in the UK.

In April 2016, according to the latest cache of Mossack Fonseca’s internal documents, the Bijli family also held two other offshore companies through a Trust and Delhi-based Priya Exhibitors Private Limited.

Chesterfield Mayfair Holdings Limited was set up in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) in May 2005. Mossack Fonseca became the company’s registered agent in 2012. In April 2016, two BVI companies — Tainstar Limited and Cinestar Limited — held between them all the shares of Chesterfield Mayfair Holdings Limited.

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Both Tainstar Limited and Cinestar Limited were incorporated in BVI in November 2015. On April 28, 2016, Mossack Fonseca records show, Minerva Fiduciary Services (Mauritius) Limited held all the shares of Tainstar Limited as the trustee of the Aamer Krishan Bijli Trust. Ajay Bijli’s son Aamer Krishan Bijli was born in 1998 and is a British citizen.

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On April 5, 2016, Delhi’s Priya Exhibitors Private Limited was the sole shareholder of Cinestar Limited (BVI), according to Mossack Fonseca records. Ajay Bijli, mother Sandhuro Rani, wife Selena and brother Sanjeev are directors of Priya Exhibitors Private Limited.

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On January 29, 2016, the records show, a sale and purchase agreement was made between Chesterfield Mayfair Holdings, its then sole shareholder Canford Holdings Inc (Geneva), and the two BVI companies Cinestar Limited and Tainstar Limited.

On April 1, 2016, acting “on instructions from Barclays Bank plc”, Maples and Calder (London) sought certificates of incumbency from Mossack Fonseca (BVI), the registered agent of the three BVI companies — Chesterfield Mayfair Holdings, Cinestar and Tainstar — “involved in a transaction which is due to complete shortly”.

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According to Mossack Fonseca records, this refers to a deed of release from Barclays Bank PLC in favour of Chesterfield Mayfair Holdings “relating to a debenture dated 28 March 2015 made between the company (inter alia) and the bank, and a legal charge over land (third party) dated 1 June 2012 made between the company and the bank”.

Soon after, according to the records, Canford Holdings transferred 1020 shares and 980 shares Chesterfield Mayfair Holdings Limited to Cinestar Limited and Tainstar Limited, respectively, on April 28, 2016.

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Further, on July 3, 2016, Chesterfield Mayfair Holdings submitted the mandatory source of funds declaration form to Mossack Fonseca and it recorded Ajay, Selena and Aamer Bijli, at the family’s Delhi (Karol Bagh) address, as the beneficial owners of the company which is funded by their personal savings, proceeds from business/trade and proceeds from inheritance/trust funds. “Holding a UK property” was the specific purpose of Chesterfield Mayfair Holdings Ltd on record.

Copies of the Indian passport, PAN card and bank statement of Ajay Bijli and the British passports of Celina and Aamer were among the documents provided to Mossack Fonseca as part of due diligence records.

Once the shares — at GBP 1 par value — of Chesterfield Mayfair Holdings Ltd were transferred to Cinestar and Tainstar, the new shareholders appointed MCD (UAE) Limited (formerly Minerva UAE Ltd) as the sole director of the company. Mossack Fonseca was instructed to act “only on the joint instructions of both Purchasers (Cinestar and Tainstar) and not on the instruction of any one Purchaser without the consent of the other”.

RESPONSE: A spokesperson for Ajay Bijli said: “Chesterfield Mayfair Holdings Limited is jointly owned by Cinestar Ltd and Tainstar Ltd, both BVI Companies. Tainstar is owned by his son Aamer Krishan Bijli who is a UK Citizen and a Non Resident Indian. Cinestar is a Wholly-Owned Subsidiary of Priya Exhibitors Private Limited, a Bijli family enterprise.”

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“The purpose of the incorporation of this Company is to carry out some private investments in the overseas market. All these investments have been made in accordance with the applicable Indian and International laws and with full and complete disclosure to Regulatory Authorities including Reserve Bank of India and Income Tax,” the spokesperson said.

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