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Paradise Papers: Here is what we exactly know about the leaks

"In all, there are 714 Indians in the tally," said the report done as part of a world-wide probe carried out by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

Paradise Papers: Here is what we exactly know about the leaks

New Delhi: A huge new leak of financial documents has revealed how the powerful and ultra-wealthy, secretly invest vast amounts of cash in offshore tax havens, media reports said on Monday.

India ranks 19th among 180 countries whose citizens and companies sheltered their wealth in secretive tax havens abroad, according to a fresh global investigation whose first lot of revelations were published on Monday.

"In all, there are 714 Indians in the tally," said the Indian Express report done as part of a world-wide probe carried out by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

"Interestingly, it is an Indian company, Sun Group, founded by Nand Lal Khemka, that figures as Appleby`s second largest client internationally, with as many as 118 different offshore entities," the Indian Express report added.

The revelations form part of the largest ever leak of financial data involving two companies, Bermuda`s Appleby and Singapore`s Asiaciti, which helped the global rich and powerful, including from India, to move their money abroad.

These include firms in the Sun-TV-Aircel-Maxis case; Essar-Loop 2G case; SNS-Lavalin in which Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan was named and then cleared; the Rajasthan ambulance scam which has recently been routed to the CBI and which names a company called Ziquista Healthcare (Sachin Pilot and Karti Chidambaram were early honorary/independent directors of the firms respectively); and fresh financial links in a CBI case against YSR Congress chief Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, the report added.

Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha`s name figures in the record because of his past association with Omidyar Network, so does the name of R.K. Sinha, BJP Rajya Sabha member of Parliament, in Malta offshore companies` list. Sinha and others had denied any wrongdoing in response to Express queries. Sinha also sent tweets on Monday saying full disclosure had been made to the authorities.

Reaction on Indian Front

Union Minister Jayant Sinha defended himself through a series of tweets after his name appeared in the "Paradise Papers" leak.

Sinha said all transactions related to him which have been mentioned in the Indian Express investigation were "fully disclosed" to relevant authorities and were done in his "official capacity, not personal".

After Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Ravindra Kishore Sinha`s name figured in the Paradise Papers leak, he chose to stay silent on the matter, quite literally.When approached for a response by the media, Sinha, who was elected to Rajya Sabha from Bihar in 2014 as a BJP member and is considered one of the richest in the House, remained silent while scribbling on a paper that he has taken pledge to not speak for seven days in `Bhagwat Yagna`.I

International Expose

This huge new leak of financial documents has revealed how the powerful and ultra-wealthy, including Britain`s Queen Elizabeth II`s private estate, secretly invest vast amounts of cash in offshore tax havens, media reports said on Monday.

The material, which has come from two offshore service providers and the company registries of 19 tax havens, was obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) with 100 other media organisations including the Guardian, the BBC and The New York Times.

Some of the revelations in the Paradise Papers include millions of pounds from Queen Elizabeth II`s private estate that has been invested in a Cayman Islands fund and some of her money that went to a retailer accused of exploiting poor families and vulnerable people.

It details extensive offshore dealings by US President Donald Trump`s cabinet members, advisers and donors, including substantial payments from a firm co-owned by Russian President Vladimir Putin`s son-in-law to the shipping group of the US Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross.

The leak shows how social media giants Twitter and Facebook received millions in investments that can be traced back to Russian state financial institutions along with aggressive tax avoidance by multinational corporations, including Nike and Apple.

It also includes information about a tax-avoiding Cayman Islands trust managed by the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau`s chief wealth manager.

The leak also includes how some of the biggest names in the film and TV industries protect their wealth with an array of offshore schemes and the complex offshore webs used by two Russian billionaires to buy stakes in Arsenal and Everton football clubs. 

The disclosures will put pressure on world leaders, including Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May, who have both pledged to curb aggressive tax avoidance schemes.

The publication of this investigation, for which more than 380 journalists have spent a year combing through data that stretches back 70 years, comes at a time of growing global income inequality.

Offshore finance is about a place outside of one`s own nation`s regulations to which companies or individuals can reroute money, assets or profits to take advantage of lower taxes, reports the BBC.

These jurisdictions are known as tax havens to the layman, or the more stately offshore financial centres (OFCs) to the industry. They are generally stable, secretive and reliable, often small islands but not exclusively so, and can vary on how rigorously they carry out checks on wrongdoing.

With Agency Inputs