Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza


Panama Papers

On 4/4/2016 International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, The Indian Express and Suddeutsche Zeitung made public many documents, around 11.5 million, related to firms registered in Panama.
Mossack Fonseca is a law firm in Panama. Documents of Mossack Fonseca that have become public have resulted in problems for those who figure in them. Ramon Fonseca, founding partner, said his company was hacked by servers abroad. He said nobody is talking of the hack and that is the only crime committed.
Amitabh Bachchan was linked to four companies as director. Sea Bulk Shipping Company Ltd in British Virgin Islands, Lady Shipping Ltd, Treasure Shipping Ltd and Tramp Shipping Ltd in Bahamas. One document showed Amitabh Bachchan resigned from Tramp Shipping Ltd in September 1997.
Amitabh Bachchan said he was not Director in the four companies. His statement said “I do not know any of the companies referred to by Indian Express – Sea Bulk Shipping Company Ltd, Lady Shipping Ltd, Treasure Shipping Ltd and Tramp Shipping Ltd. I have never been a director of any of the above stated companies. It is possible that my name has been misused.
I have paid all my taxes including on monies spent by me overseas. Monies I have remitted overseas have been in compliance with law, including remittances through LRS, after paying Indian taxes. In any event, the news report in Indian Express does not even suggest any illegality on my part.”
Aishwarya Rai, her father Krishna Rai, mother Vrinda Rai and brother Aditya Rai were shown as directors in Amic Partners Limited in British Virgin Islands. The company was registered on 28/10/2004 and wound up on 30/4/2009. Aishwarya Rai was director from 14/5/2005 to 18/6/2005. After that she continued as shareholder. Aishwarya Rai’s media advisor Archana Sadanand said all information is totally untrue and false.
Harish Salve did not appear on any TV channel. There was no mention of any journalist trying to get in touch with him for his comment.
Vinod Adani was mentioned as elder brother of Gautam Adani, who is close to Narendra Modi. Adani Group issued a statement. “Mr. Vinod Adani who is the elder brother of Mr. Gautam Adani has been a Non-Resident Indian (NRI) for about 30 years and has his own established business interests outside India.
It is strange that Mr. Gautam Adani’s name in mentioned in the headline though he is not the account holder and the story actually pertains to Indians having not legitimate bank accounts abroad. This is a deliberate attempt to draw Mr. Gautam Adani’s name, not just to mislead the readers at large but mischievously sensationalising the matter.”

Ian Cameron, father of David Cameron, had some shares in a company. David Cameron said he sold the shares he inherited and paid tax on them in January 2010, five months before he became Prime Minister.
Iceland’s Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunlaugsson had to resign on 5/4/2016 after revelation that his wife owned a firm with claims on Iceland’s collapsed banks. Iceland’s Foreign Minister was in India on a visit from 3 – 9 April. On 5th he had met India’s Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj.
Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko is in the list. He justified his ownership. He said “Having become president, I stopped participating in the management of my assets, having delegated this responsibility to the respective consulting and law firms.”
Russia said it was a conspiracy against them. Some documents had names of Vladimir Putin’s friends and close associates.
China blocked news of Panama Papers. The names included President Xi Jinping’s brother-in-law.
There is no name from USA. Some say it is a CIA plot. May be Americans registered with some other law firm.
In Argentina there was demonstration against Mauricio Macri. He said his father started the company and it shut some years back. It is four months since he became President.
In Panama it is legal to buy companies or set up offshore companies. Those who bought companies there or became Directors in the companies did not break any law in Panama. Some Indians have claimed they are NRIs and what they have done is legal. Some claimed they have permission of RBI. Many companies were bought in British Virgin Islands.
Laws differ from country to country and sometimes within a country. Someone on BBC said secrecy of accounts and firms is allowed in Delaware and New Jersey in USA. That can be one reason why Americans do not figure in Panama Papers.
We have to see whether those who own foreign accounts or companies have defaulted on loans or have gone for corporate or strategic debt restructuring. If yes, the swindlers should be in jail.

DDCA corruption

On 15/12/2015 CBI raided Delhi CM’s office.  It was officially or ostensibly regarding principal secretary Rajendra Kumar.  It was the first time a CM’s office was raided in India.  Arvind Kejriwal tweeted about the raid.  He said Narendra Modi was a coward and psychopath.  Some non-BJP politicians including Mamata Banerjee and Nitish Kumar condemned the raid.  In the evening Kejriwal said CBI wanted DDCA file and the raid was protect Arun Jaitley.

BJP MP Kirti Azad, Bishen Singh Bedi and Sameer Bahadur talked about corruption in DDCA.  Opposition parties demanded Jaitley’s resignation.  AAP held press conferences against Jaitley.  Kejriwal announced Inquiry Commission to look into DDCA misdeeds.  Congress demanded Joint Parliamentary Committee to investigate DDCA.  Bedi said cricket associations in North India are companies and they want to make profit.   Cricket associations in South India are societies.

On 20/12/2015 at 4 p.m. there was a press conference officially by Wikileaks4India and Sun Star newspaper.  Kirti Azad, Bishen Singh Bedi, Surinder Khanna and Sameer Bahadur were present.  There was a video presentation regarding payment to fake companies.  One part showed Kirti Azad arguing with Arun Jaitley about financial manual, bogus members, forged signatures and so on.  Parliament session was going on.  Kirti Azad had 52 questions for Jaitley.  It was embarrassing for BJP because its own MP was accusing its Finance Minister.

On 21/12/2015 Jaitley filed civil and criminal defamation cases.  The civil case was against Kejriwal for 10 crore rupees in Delhi High Court.  The criminal case was against Kejriwal, Ashutosh, Sanjay Singh, Kumar Vishwas, Raghav Chaddha and Deepak Bajpai under sections 499-502 of IPC in the court of Chief Metropolitan Magistrate.   Ram Jethmalani said he will fight for Kejriwal.  There was a question whether poor AAP can afford Jethmalani’s charge of 22 lakh rupees.  Jethmalani replied he charges in 10% cases and 90% cases he fights free.

There was demand for Jaitley’s resignation in Parliament.  Some said “Caesar’s wife should be above suspicion.”  Jaitley had said the same thing about Manmohan Singh.

On 22/12/2015 at a meeting of BJP parliamentary party Modi said Jaitley is as pure as Advani.  He referred to Advani’s acquittal in Jain Hawala case.  Delhi Legislative Assembly had a session on DDCA.  Kejriwal demanded Modi’s resignation for ordering CBI raid to protect Jaitley.

On 23/12/2015 Parliament session got over and BJP suspended Kirti Azad for anti-party activities.  Azad asked how can fighting against corruption can be anti-party activity.  He had become member of BJP in 1992 when nobody wanted to touch it with a bargepole.  He said he will continue his crusade against corruption in sports and sports bodies.  Subramanian Swamy said he will help Kirti Azad to draft reply to the notice.

There was also talk of Jaitley’s association with Hockey India and his family benefitting from it.  It became known that Jaitley’s daughter Sonali was on two committees of Hockey India and his son-in-law was on two committees.

  1. P. S. Gill said Arun Jaitely being an advisor to Hockey India got his daughter appointed to legal committee and Hockey India paid an exorbitant amount to Sonali Jaitley towards retainership fee. The amount is said to be five and half crore rupees.

On 25/12/2015 Kirti Azad wrote to Amit Shah and demanded to know the instances of anti-party activities and proof.

For long Jaitley had defended other BJP members accused of corruption or impropriety.  Now he was at the receiving end.  BJP spokespersons and some BJP leaders defended him.

Jaitley is responsible for the files he signed when he was DDCA president.  The argument that he was not involved in day-to-day affairs and general secretary and treasurer carried out the functions is not good to absolve him of his responsibility.

DDCA was in a mess for a long time.  It was Delhi High Court that saved DDCA from forfeiting Test against South Africa.  Delhi High Court had appointed former Punjab and Haryana High Court judge Mukul Mudgal to supervise the functioning of DDCA.  He has been quiet.

Robert Vadra and DLF

IAC has raised questions about Robert Vadra’s dealings with DLF and subsequent benefits to Robert Vadra and DLF. Congress members, UPA ministers and a governor have defended Robert Vadra. There is a question over ministers and a governor defending a private person. BJP and Left Front want an investigation in Robert Vadra’s dealings. Manish Tewari said IAC is B team of BJP. Sanjay Jha said Manish Tewari was extremely charitable; BJP is B team of IAC. Harish Salve is a lawyer of DLF.

IAC did what many people consider unspeakable; attacking Gandhi family. IAC did not do anything new. Economic Times had an article on Robert Vadra and DLF around 18 months back. Some people in BJP had accused Rahul Gandhi or Gandhi family of having money in Swiss banks. Sonia Gandhi denied it. L. K. Advani apologised. That embarrassed BJP members.

Many people appeared on TV discussions. Dushyant Dave said anyone related to a politician, bureaucrat or judge becomes a brilliant entrepreneur. Someone related to a former CJI earned 200 crore rupees. Shalini Singh said a business model where one starts with 50 lakh rupees and earns 300 crore rupees in two years is something she and Karan Thapar should explore. Salman Khurshid said we will teach Arvind Kejriwal a lesson. Arvind Kejriwal said Salman Khurshid is law minister of India and not law minister of Congress. Prashant Bhushan, Manish Sisodia, Anand Kumar, Yogendra Yadav and Preeti Menon appeared for IAC. Vinod Sharma referred to Arvind Kejriwal as a loose cannon.

There are discrepancies between DLF statements and Robert Vadra statements. Haryana government is under attack for some of its actions favouring DLF. What happened to Jaganmohan Reddy can happen to Robert Vadra.

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