Paradise Papers: MoS Jayant Sinha’s links with Omidyar in Appleby files

Omidyar Network invested in D.Light Design which took a loan of $3 mn through its Cayman Islands subsidiary. Records show Sinha served as Director of D.Light Design founded in 2006 in San Francisco.

Written by Shyamlal Yadav | New Delhi | Updated: November 6, 2017 9:02:38 pm
Paradise Papers, Paradise Papers Investigation, Paradise Papers Jayant Sinha, ICIJ indian Express Investigation Not associated with these firms any longer: Jayant Sinha

Before he was elected Lok Sabha MP from Hazaribagh in Jharkhand in 2014 and became a Minister of State at the Centre, Jayant Sinha worked with Omidyar Network as its Managing Director in India. Omidyar Network invested in a US company D.Light Design which has a subsidiary in Cayman Islands in the Caribbean Sea.

Records of offshore legal firm Appleby show Sinha served as Director of D.Light Design — he did not mention this in his declaration to the Election Commission when he contested the Lok Sabha polls in 2014, nor to the Lok Sabha Secretariat or the Prime Minister’s Office as a Minister of State in 2016.

D.Light Design Inc was founded in 2006 in San Francisco, California and has a subsidiary of the same name in Cayman Islands. Sinha joined Omidyar Network in September 2009 and resigned in December 2013. Omidyar Network invested in D.Light Design which took a loan of USD 3 million through its Cayman Islands subsidiary from an investor based in the Netherlands – Appleby records mention a loan agreement dated December 31, 2012. Sinha was Director at D.Light Design when these decisions were taken.

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In his October 26, 2016 declaration to the PMO, available on the PMO website, Sinha did, however, mention: “The declarant may be entitled to carried interest in certain investments made by Omidyar Network entities in the years 2009 to 2013. The value of the carried interest that may be received by the declarant (if any) is not capable of determination.” A similar line is also mentioned in his March 24, 2014 declaration to the Election Commission with his nomination for the Lok Sabha polls and in his declaration to the Lok Sabha Secretariat as a member of Lok Sabha.

Appleby records document an “Action by Unanimous Written Consent of the Board of Directors of D.Light Design Inc that “adopted and approved” a “resolution” in December 2012 “to procure through its wholly-owned subsidiary D.Light Design (Cayman), a secured loan in the aggregate principal amount of up to USD 3,000,000 from Global Commercial Microfinance Consortium II B.V. consisting of two separate USD 1,500,000 disbursements.” In this document, Jayant Sinha is mentioned as one of six signatories.

EXPLAINED: Why the Paradise Papers matter

Global Commercial Microfinance Consortium II B.V. is a Netherlands-incorporated private limited liability company. It is an investment facility that is seeking to raise $101.25 million in commitments from qualified investors to provide senior and subordinated loans to microfinance institutions globally.

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Appleby gave its legal opinion on the loan on December 31, 2012 and, on the same day, issued an invoice of USD 5775.39.for its legal opinion. D.Light Design designs and manufactures high quality consumer products for families without access to reliable electricity.  Established in 2004 by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam, Omidyar Network invests in and helps scale innovative organizations to catalyse economic and social change. Omidyar’s Indian investments include Quickr, Akshara Foundation, Anudip Foundation, Aspiring Minds, HealthKart.

Response from MoS Jayant Sinha 

I joined Omidyar Network (one of the world’s leading impact investment firms http://www.omidyar.com) in September 2009 as Managing Director of their Indian operations. I resigned in December 2013 to pursue a career in public life.

At Omidyar Network, I was responsible for initiating the firm’s investment in D.Light Design in 2010. D.Light Design is the world’s leading solar power company for off-grid families. Thereafter, I served on the Board of D.Light Design till November 2014. Till December 2013, I was on the Board as Omidyar Network’s representative. From January 2014 till November 2014, I served on the Board as an Independent Director. I resigned as a Board Member when I joined the Union Council of Ministers in November 2014. I am not associated with these companies any longer.

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I did not receive any compensation as a D.Light Design Board Member while I was at Omidyar Network because I was serving as Omidyar’s representative. While serving as an Independent Director from January 2014 to November 2014, I received consulting fees as well as shares in D.Light Design. This has been fully disclosed and accounted for in all my tax filings. In my various disclosures for the elections, the Lok Sabha and the Prime Minister’s Office, I have disclosed all my aggregate share holdings.

During the years that I was at Omidyar Network, the firm made a variety of investments including D.Light Design. As a member of the firm during those years, I am entitled to a share of the carried interest in these investments. The actual details of the various investments made during that time is confidential information that can only be disclosed by Omidyar Network. As a Board Member, I was required to sign various financial documents.

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Response from Omidyar Network

Jayant Sinha was a partner at Omidyar Network and managing director of Omidyar Network India Advisors. He was employed from January 1, 2010 to December 31,2013. As a matter of practice within the venture capital community and our policy, we do not disclose the details of our for-profit investments. Inquiries regarding D.Light’s operations should be addressed to the company.

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