Following the Panama Paper Leak in April exposing Indian celebrities like Amitabh Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, names of Bollywood actor-producer Ajay Devgn and actress Kajol have surfaced in a fresh exposé of wealthy detractors who have hidden their assets through offshore companies in tax havens like Panama.
According to the leak, Devgn had bought the entire shareholding of a British Virgin Islands (BVI) company Marylebone Entertainment Limited in 2013 from London based Hassan N Sayani. After acting as the company’s director for less than a year, he resigned from the position. However, during his tenure he brought in EFG Trust Company Limited and EFG Nominees as directors of Marylebone Entertainment. It is said to be registered under Monssack Fonseca & Co, the Panama-based law firm which is associated with the leaks. The actor claimed that it was done to acquire and exploit overseas rights of Hindi films, according to reports.
Anil Sekhri, Devgn’s Chartered Accountant has defended him saying, “Ajay Devgn holds 1,000 shares on behalf of M/s Nysa Yug Entertainment, a partnership firm between Mr Ajay Devgn and Mrs Kajol Devgn.” He also said that shares held are reflected by M/s Nysa Yug Entertainment in its balance sheet as filed with the Income Tax Department.
According to mandate, till 2003, no Indian was allowed to set up an overseas entity. In 2004, RBI allowed Indian citizens to buy shares in overseas companies, but still hasn’t allowed them to set up companies abroad. The leaked papers have revealed that most of the offshore companies were set up by Indians before 2004.
This scandal of leaked documents has revealed a global network of offshore companies that encourage the world’s rich and powerful to hide their large assets, and walk around the rules that dominate them.