Delhi: Weeks after denying any link with four offshore companies named in the Panama Papers, it has been reported that soon after Amitabh Bachchan was appointed director, one of the companies, Tramp Shipping Limited (Bahamas), acquired a ship from another Bahamas company, co-owned by his brother Ajitabh Bachchan, in 1994.
As per a report in The Indian Express, earlier, the ship, MV Nile Delta, was owned by Nile Shipping Ltd, one of four offshore shipping companies set up during 1990-91 by Ajitabh Bachchan in partnership with late Mehernoosh Khajotia and London-based lawyer Sarosh Zaiwalla.
The actor has denied any link with the four offshore companies named in the Panama Papers that list him as director.
The Daily quoted Amitabh as saying in an email, "I have been an NRI since 1986 for about 20 years. I was involved in a perfectly legitimate shipping business in the early ‘90s. My brother Amitabh Bachchan had nothing to do with my shipping business.”
The report further said that Ajitabh is said to have invested US $15 million as seed capital and Khajotia looked after the business.
It also said that lawyer Zaiwalla was instrumental in bringing the partners together.
In an email interview with the Daily, Zaiwalla confirmed the partnership.
The report quoted him as saying, "I was informed by Ajitabh that the source of the US $15 million was Bachchans’ own family wealth. I had assumed that both the brothers invested the money but I had not at that time specifically asked Ajitabh if what were said to be Bachchan family funds belonged to both Amitabh and Ajitabh’s families or they simply belonged to Ajitabh’s family."
He added, “My (law) firm was instructed by Ajitabh Bachchan to commence libel proceedings against the Swedish Newspaper Dagens Nyheter… the libel actions related to allegations concerning the Bofors gun deal.”
The Indian Express had carried a report based on leaked documents of a Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca which is said to feature links of over 500 Indians to firms and accounts in offshore tax havens.
Panama is deemed as a tax haven of well-heeled living across the globe, who set up offshore companies and get benefits of the secretive, tax regulatory system in the country offered to these firms.
To be noted is the fact that when the news had broken, Amitabh had tweeted the following:
T 2197 - I do not know any of the companies referred to by Indian Express - Sea Bulk Shipping Company Ltd, (cont) https://t.co/QlcY6vDo6J
— Amitabh Bachchan (@SrBachchan) April 5, 2016
— Amitabh Bachchan FC (@Thekkapoor) April 5, 2016
(With Agency inputs)