Friday, June 10 2022

ALLEGING the detection of undeclared offshore assets and investments, the Mumbai Unit of the Income Tax Investigation Wing issued a Final Order in March 2022 against Anil Ambani, Chairman of Reliance Group ( ADA), under the Black Money Act (BMA) of 2015.

The Black Money Act order was filed following the issuance of notices to industrialists about a network of suspected undeclared offshore assets, the first in 2019.

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The order lists offshore entities and details of transactions in linked bank accounts totaling more than Rs 800 crore. This figure, sources said, was calculated based on the current rupee-dollar exchange rate.

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Questions sent to Anil Ambani remained unanswered. In February 2020, Ambani told a UK court that he was “bankrupt” and his net worth was “zero”.

The BMA order is said to detail Anil Ambani’s beneficial ownership of entities in two offshore havens, the Bahamas and the British Virgin Islands.

In the Bahamas, he established the Diamond Trust in 2006 with an “underlying” offshore company, Dreamwork Holdings Inc. Following inquiries from the CBDT in the Bahamas via the Foreign Tax and Tax Research (FTTR) division, the existence of ‘a Swiss bank account – in the Zurich branch of UBS Bank – was discovered.

Another undeclared offshore company, incorporated by Anil Ambani in 2010 in the BVI, is North Atlantic Trading Unlimited.

This company was found to have a bank account linked to the Bank of Cyprus. This entity was among 18 entities linked to Anil Ambani in the recently released report “Pandora Papers” survey listed by The Indian Express but, obviously, was already one on the radar of IT authorities.

What is described as “substantial” transactions have been detected in these foreign bank accounts with no offshore asset fees.

The final valuation order was made in the case of Anil Ambani under section 10(3) of the BMA 2015, under which an valuation officer makes a final order after considering all the “accounts, documents or evidence” collected.

It is understood that the answers given by representatives of the President of the ADA Group have been taken into account by computer detectives in the final evaluation order.

Previously, the Chairman of Reliance ADA Group was named in more than one offshore investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in partnership with The Indian Express and other media groups.

In 2015, the “Swiss Leaks” investigation revealed that Anil Ambani was among 1,100 Indians who had an account at the Geneva branch of HSBC. His balance on the HSBC account for the year 2006-07: 26.6 million dollars.


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