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finance | IST

Pandora Papers: Offshore havens of wealthy elites

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More revelations from the Pandora Papers surface, an expose of offshore accounts of wealthy elites conducted by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

Pandora papers expose this time revealed names of a real estate tycoon, a renowned arbitrator and a digital health platform co-founder.
First, Hiroo Advani is a name most people are familiar with especially in the field of arbitration law. He is also the co-founder of Business India. Now Pandora papers revealed that along with his wife, Nita Advani, he owned firms in British Virgin Islands as well as Seychelles.
The papers revealed that these companies are used to borrow funds from a Swiss bank. The company's also routed funds through a Mauritian entity to invest in real estate and hospitality assets back home in India. Now in his reply, Hiroo Advani has clarified that the said companies were in fact NRI client companies and that the clients have shut the business 10 years ago. He also clarified that he has no further information and has not kept any old records.
Meanwhile, Tushar Vashisht's name was also mentioned in reports, connecting him to the Pandora papers. The health and fitness platform HealthifyMe, clarified: Certain media reports on Pandora Papers have falsely claimed HealthifyMe Cofounder and CEO Tushar Vashisht owning shell companies or Singapore held-companies with connections to politically exposed persons. We wish to clarify that these stories are inaccurate and have grossly misrepresented the facts.
Vashisht in a statement to CNBCTV18.com said: "HealthifyMe, myself, or my family are not in any Pandora papers. The investor in question (LCF) owns less than 2% of HealthifyMe and was a publicly traded co on SGX when our board accepted their investment. LCF has gone private recently - but we are not aware of any PEP risk - we simply don't know Putin or anyone linked to him! This is just a case of unfortunate sensationalist reporting by a certain media outlet where focus on the real story has been shifted to a misleading startup victimization."
Lastly, the papers have also mentioned the Titan of Mumbai’s real estate market that's Niranjan Hiranandani. As per the papers, his son was responsible for setting up as many as 25 companies at least in the British Virgin Islands.  Niranjan Hiranandani was a Reserve Director in at least three of those 25 firms. As per the investigation, in 2008 one of these 25 companies was used to secure a lease for a transcontinental jet a Bombardier Challenger 850.
Later, this shareholding is believed to have been moved to a trust called the Solitaire Trust. The trust is believed to have assets of $60 million. Hiranandani family members were in fact the beneficiaries of this trust.
Meanwhile, Darshan Hiranandani has clarified that Solitaire Trust is his personal investment vehicle and that any money routed to it has been sent by him alone.
Note:
This story has been updated to incorporate a statement from HealthifyMe and it's founder Tushar Vashisht.