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Congress dares Modi to put ‘Paradise Papers’ suspects in dock

The Congress on Monday dared Prime Minister Narendra Modi to initiate action against the suspected Indian tax evaders who feature in the “Paradise Papers” leak, including one of his ministers, and put the entire facts before the Supreme Court bench overseeing black money investigations.

The Congress also demanded the resignation of Minister Jayant Sinha.

“Will the Prime Minister show the courage of conviction to hand over this entire information to the bench of Supreme Court that is looking at action against black money holders? Will the ‘Compromised Bureau of Investigation’ (CBI) and ED (Enforcement Directorate) take action?” Congress Spokesman Randeep Surjewala said.

The “Paradise Papers” are a set of 13.4 million leaked financial documents from law firm Appleby on investments of major multi-national corporations (MNCs) and that of well known individuals in India and abroad in tax havens.

The German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung obtained the documents and subsequently shared them with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

The Indian Express newspaper carried out the investigation in the case of 714 Indian links, which include Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha and BJP Rajya Sabha MP R.K. Sinha.

The leaked papers allegedly reveal that Jayant Sinha was a director in a US company D. Light Design that has a subsidiary of the same name in Cayman Islands. This subsidiary raised a loan of US$3 million. A loan agreement dated December 31, 2012 was signed with Jayant Sinha as a signatory and a director.

Surjewala said that Jayant Sinha concealed this information of being a director of D. Light Design in his declaration to the Election Commission as also to the Lok Sabha Secretariat and the Prime Minister’s Office.

He said that Jayant Sinha continued as a director of D. Light Design even after being elected as an MP in May 2014 and “continued to receive money and shares” of D. Light Design during this period.

“Jayant Sinha also refuses to disclose the various financial documents that he has signed for or on behalf of Omidyar Network. He is or has been a director of various other companies. Do these companies have any connection to any offshore entities like the Omidyar Network?,” the Congress leader said.

While Jayant Sinha has explained his position through a series of tweets, R.K. Sinha, when confronted by media, wrote on a piece of paper that he is on a “maun vrat” (vow of silence) for seven days for religious reasons.

Surjewala said that R.K. Sinha and his wife Rita Kishore Sinha are owners of an offshore company called ‘SIS Asia Pacific Holdings Ltd’ (SAPHL) in Malta, a tax haven.

He further said that another company called ‘SIS International Holding Ltd’ (SIHL) is incorporated in the offshore tax haven of British Virgin Islands and owns 39,99,999 shares of SAPHL.

“R.K. Sinha neither disclosed this in his election affidavit nor to the Rajya Sabha Secretariat…Is the non-disclosure not an electoral offence? Did the BJP and the Modi government not know about all these offshore tax haven based transactions?” Surjewala demanded to know.

He said that Prime Minister Modi’s “so-called” fight against black money and corruption remains a “complete flop” as it failed to take action in the Panama Papers leak where around 500 names emerged, including those of persons linked to the BJP.