Corporate lobbyist Niira Radia, who was at the centre of a controversy in 2010 over intercepted phone conversations that came to be known as the Radia Tapes and suggested that she used her proximity to some journalists and politicians to try and influence ministerial appointments in UPA II, was part of two offshore companies in Malta.
Malta registry documents investigated by The Indian Express show that Radia was director, legal and judicial representative in Suez La Vallette Limited, incorporated in Malta in April 2012; and Pegasus International Advisors Limited, incorporated in Malta in August 2011.
Radia was “removed” from Suez La Vallette Limited in August 2014 and “resigned” in February 2014 from Pegasus International Advisors Limited. Scrutiny of documents show that the two firms repeatedly changed their names.
Pegasus International Advisors Limited, documents show, changed its name to SLV FG Technopolo Limited in May 2014. Suez La Vallette Limited, incorporated as Pegasus Management Services Limited, changed its name to Suez La Vallette Limited in May 2014. In November 2015, Suez La Vallette Limited again changed its name to Suez Holdings Limited.
The declared “Objects” of Pegasus, according to documents available on Malta registry, are sweeping: “to provide advisory, operational, logistical and consultancy services and assistance to banks, financial institutions, corporate and unincorporated bodies and authorities as well as private persons for the promotion and development of their businesses… to run the business of ship managers and operators, ship owners.”
The website of Suez La Vallette Limited states: “We are a Maltese holding company actively involved in Africa and Latin America.”
EXPLAINED: Why the Paradise Papers matter
Incidentally, in March 2014, the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) told the Supreme Court that it was going to prosecute Radia’s Vaishnavi Group companies for alleged violation of the Companies Act. The SFIO sought permission from Ministry of Corporate Affairs in February 2014 itself — when Radia “resigned” from Pegasus International Advisors Limited — to prosecute these companies.
Radia also figured in the Panama Papers — she had established an offshore firm, Crownmart International Group Limited, in the British Virgin Islands in 1994.
When contacted, a spokesperson for Niira Radia said: “Following the closure of the communications business, Ms Niira Radia had accepted appointment as a Director in a Maltese company i.e. company registered in Malta, M/s Pegasus International Advisors Ltd. in 2011. This was part of her endeavour to be an emerging market specialist with a network spread across the BRICS countries, Africa and other economies.
“However, due to personal reasons including an acute health condition, Ms Radia was unable to undertake any work or make any contribution to the company. Accordingly she resigned from the company as a Director in 2014. Ms. Radia did not have any financial interests in the aforesaid company and has neither drawn any salary or material benefits during her period of association with the company. The pertinent disclosures in this regard have been made to the relevant authorities. Ms Radia is not associated with M/s Suez La Vallette Ltd in any manner.