Days before the CBI searched the Mumbai premises of the Hiranandani Group in March 2008 and lodged an FIR naming two of its directors in an alleged provident fund scandal, the real estate major incorporated a company in Bermuda, the latest addition to its offshore entities.
According to records of offshore legal firm Appleby, District Holdings (Bermuda) Ltd or DHBL was incorporated in Bermuda on February 28, 2008 with the stated purpose “to own and or operate aircraft registered in Bermuda”. In the records is a document that names three directors of DHBL, Timothy John Counsel, Hari Babu Ennagowni and Darshan Niranjan Hiranandani — on April 29, 2015, Darshan Niranjan Hiranandani was listed as a PEP (politically exposed person) by Appleby.
Records show that the Registrar of Companies of Bermuda sent a notice to DHBL on July 20, 2015, saying it ‘‘has not paid its 2015 Annual Fee… the company has neglected to send to the Registrar its declaration of business containing particulars of the principal business… we will proceed to strike the Company off the register”.
An Appleby declaration in 2016 about DHBL mentions that its principal business is ‘‘Airlines and Airport Services” and the annual fee for 2016 was BMD 1995. DHBL was incorporated in Bermuda days before the CBI named Niranjan and Surendra Hiranandani as accused in an FIR it lodged on March 29, 2008 for an alleged fraud in provident fund deposits — a chargesheet was filed subsequently, and the case is in court.
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DHBL in Bermuda was not the first offshore foray of the Hiranandanis. According to Appleby records, Hirco Plc, with a registered office at Douglas on the Isle of Man, has as its directors Niranjan Hiranandani, his daughter Priya Hiranandani and Kersi Gherda. “The company was formed in 2006 to co-invest in large scale mixed-use township developments in suburban areas outside city centres in India. These townships will be predominately residential and provide high quality affordable housing for India’s growing young and affluent working population,” records show.
At the Malta registry, Neha Surendra Hiranandani and Surendra Hiranandani are shown as directors of a company (registration no. C 70995), according to Appleby. The company name is not mentioned. Shareholders of the company are Singapore-based Manuka Developers Private Ltd and Malta-based Trident Corporate Services (Malta) Ltd. Both Hiranandanis are named as legal representatives of the company.
The Malta registry also names Neha Surendra Hiranandani as director and shareholder of another company (registration no. C 75266) — again minus the company name. Manuka Developers Ltd was established on April 16, 2015 in Singapore.
On Hirco Plc, Appleby records note: “Allegations that client as directors made fraudulent misrepresentations and breached their fiduciary duty causing Hirco Plc to invest 350.8 million pound in an investment believed to be worth 160 million pound. BWT provide trust and company services to Priya Hiranandani-Vandrevala and provided services to Hirco Plc until March 2011. Not on litigation register/watchlist.”
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Before its merger with Appleby, Isle of Man law firm Dickinson Cruickshank’s head of London office Toby Ward wrote to his colleague Jones Tim on August 22, 2007: ‘‘We have seen a number of Indian companies using the Isle of Man as a location within which to base a holding company for listing on AIM. To date 12 companies either with substantial business interests or looking to invest in India have used the Isle of Man in this way.”
RESPONSE from NIRANJAN HIRANANDANI
Hirco Plc, an entity listed on the LSE, did invest through Mauritius. That decision was taken by Hirco Plc based on advice received by them from their lawyers. Neither I nor my wife were (directly, indirectly or otherwise) shareholders in Hirco Plc. Any entity that has been incorporated or invested by me or my wife or any of our companies have always and shall continue to take all the necessary clearances from the Authorized Dealer of the RBI (i.e. the banks) as well as declaration of the same is always done in the necessary Income Tax returns as well.
I have spoken to my son Darshan who confirmed that he had set up District Holdings (Bermuda) and invested a sum of less than USD 10000 for his potential investments in Bermuda in Agriculture. However, that project did not got through and nothing has happened. As far as Neha Surendra Hiranandani’s ventures are concerned, there is no investment by me or my wife or any companies which we hold solely or in partnership with my brother Surendra.