‘Panama Papers’ linked firms named after James Bond films

Washington, April 7 (IANS) The Panama law firm at the centre of the huge leak of data on offshore financial accounts reportedly incorporated a string of companies named after James Bond films.

Among the 11 million documents leaked from the firm Mossack Fonseca that specialises in setting up complex offshore corporate structures, are files showing that the firm established companies named after James Bond movies and villains, ABC News reported.

The files include companies named “Goldfinger”, “SkyFall”, “GoldenEye”, “Moonraker”, “Spectre” and also “Blofeld”, the arch Bond nemesis fond of remote island lairs, the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), which investigated the files alongside 100 other media outlets, wrote in an article on Wednesday.

The files also include “correspondence from a man named Austin Powers, apparently his real name and not the movie character, and Jack Bauer, a real person whom a Mossack Fonseca employee entered into the firm’s database as a client after the employee “met him at a pub”, the article said.

Jack Bauer was also the character portrayed by actor Kiefer Sutherland in the hit TV series “24”.

The investigations around the Panama Papers began being published on Sunday, and have shone an unusual light on the closed world of offshore corporations.

The documents are the biggest whistleblower leak in history and, so far, the alleged revelations have appeared to lay bare the financial dealings of former spy chiefs, criminals and officials, including friends of Russian President Vladimir Putin and relatives of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Mix of Bollywood, glamour, sports in latest ‘Panama Papers’ expose

New Delhi, April 7 (IANS) A consortium that unsuccessfully bid for an Indian Premier League franchise — which included actors Saif Ali Khan, Kareena Kapoor and Karisma Kapoor, industrialist Venugupal Dhoot’s firms and Pune-based realtors Chordia family — had investments by an offshore company.

Stating this in its latest “Panama Papers” expose, The Indian Express on Thursday reported that 10 members had entered into a pact to form P-Vision Sports to bid for IPL Pune franchise, in which 15 percent was earmarked for the offshore firm, Obdurate Ltd in British Virgin Islands.

It was shut after failing to win the bid, the newspaper said.

In the sports consortium, the largest stake of 33 percent was held by the Chordia family, 4.5 percent each by Kareena and Karisma, 9 percent each by Saif and Mumbai resident Manoj S. Jain and 25 percent by Dhoot through two group companies. Obdurate was earmarked 15 percent.

Dhoot said he was concerned only with the 25 percent in P-Vision sports and did not know of Obdurate, while Atul Chordia said his group always owned 100 percent of the sports company and that the offshore entity never held any share in it.

As regards others, the newspaper said, Kareena Kapoor’s office informed she was not in town, Jain was not available for comment and Saif did not respond to messages and e-mails.

Indian authorities, led by Reserve Bank Governor Raghuram Rajan, have said not every off-shore company opened by an Indian need be illegitimate, and that this would be the primary task of a probe team that has been set up as per orders by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The latest expose by Indian Express had another story with a sports link: That Lokesh Sharma, managing director of sports management major Twenty First Century Media, has two companies of his own registered in the tax haven of British Virgin Islands. The third is a subsidiary of the sports company.

Sharma told the Express that while a company in British Virgin Islands, Margarita Services, was intended to be acquired through an overseas solicitor, he neither proceeded on the matter, nor did he receive any share of the company operated or managed by the entity.

As regards another firm, Mardi Gras Holdings, he said he has been complying with relevant Indian laws and that the tax returns for the same for the year ended March 31, 2016 were not due yet. In the third entity, Peppermint Management, Sharma said he was compliant and Reserve Bank of India was informed.

The newspaper has been carrying the stories as part of a global expose of International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and over 100 global media organisations, dubbed the “Panama Papers”, based on millions of leaked documents of a Panama law firm Mossak Fonseca.

Among others named in the expose on Thursday included a Delhi-based tyre dealer, a boutique owner, the daughter of an Australian mining billionaire, a textiles exporter, an engineering company owner, metals firm’s directors and a chartered accountant.

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