Besides Mallya, three former UB executives had accounts in the British Virgin Islands

The murky million dollar network of offshore companies exposed recently in the so-called Panama Papers by the International Consor-tium of Investigative Jour-nalists (ICIJ) has a Bengaluru connection: At least 31 families from the city are said to have invested in various companies in the tax haven of British Virgin Islands (BVI).

The names of Bengalureans who have made offshore investments and the companies that they invested in have been mentioned in the ICIJ global database. While it is not clear if their investments are legal or camouflaged, what is surprising is that the list does not have a single politician on it. A majority of them are corporate honchos.

In fact, the only name from the city that initially became public with the offshore leaks was that of Vijay Mallya, former liquor baron and owner of the defunct Kingfisher Airlines. But the Offshore Leaks Database has sprung up three more names from the UB Group: Ayani Kurussi Ravindranath Nedungadi (the former chief financial officer), Atikukke Harish Bhat (the former managing director of UB Holdings) and Pathai Ananthasubra-manian Murali (former chief financial officer of United Spirits Ltd).

Unlike disclosures from the Panama Papers that put the spotlight on law firm Mossack Fonseca, the offshore activities of a majority of these Bengalureans were facilitated by a service provider called Portcullis TrustNet in BVI, the Caribbean hideaway.

According to the leaked documents, Nedungadi had become a shareholder in a BVI-based company called Modesto Group Ltd, which was incorporated on April 8, 2005. Nedungadi had recently come under the radar of the Enforcement Directorate in connection with the probe into a money laundering case against Mallya.

The ED was probing the transactions between the defunct Kingfisher Airlines and IDBI Bank Ltd as it suspected diversion of around Rs 950 crore granted by the bank. Though the Offshore Leaks Database does not quantify Nedungadi’s investments in BVI, sources working with different law enforcement agencies in the country maintain that Nedungadi will have to explain the offshore leaks.

The documents state that Harish Bhat and his partner Brinda Bhat had invested in a BVI-based company named Blazing Horizon Ltd, which was incorporated on April 15, 2008. Their nominee shareholder in the company is Sharecorp Ltd.

Similarly, PA Murali and his partner Rukmini Murali had invested in a BVI company named Diamond Dust Inc, which was incorporated on March 17, 2008. Their nominee shareholder was Sharecorp Ltd.

Apart from being part of the UB Group, the other common thread for Nedungadi, Bhat and Murali is the service provider Portcullis TrustNet — a firm that promises secrecy to clients and helps in op-ening overseas bank accounts.

BM contacted UB Group to source the details of the three former executives for their comments, but was told that the contact numbers and mail IDs were not available.

These apart, two Bellary-based mining families, with their Bengaluru address as 58, Cunningham Road Cross, have invested in four BVI companies — Butterworth Holding Properties Inc, Yielding Returns Ltd, Gold Meadow Holdings Ltd and Cap9Biz Ltd.

The investments were made by them when the demand for iron ore from the state had peaked.

It was around the same time that the mining scam broke out in the state.

In fact, a member of one of these families had claimed to be the whistleblower in the mining scam.

There are businessmen with interests in real estate, floriculture, technology infrastructure, and banking whose names have been mentioned in the Offshore Leaks Database.

Bengalureans in the ICIJ Offshore Leaks List

* AKR Nedungadi

* Anand Reddy, Mareddy, Gangi Reddy

* Anil Singh & Nitin Panchmal

* Ashok Madhaw

* Alok, Alpana, Shivangini Bhartia

* Bhavani Prasad Tapal

* Bollachettira D Appachu

* Vijay Mallya

* HJ Siwani & MJ Siwani

* Harisha & Brinda Bhat

* Jayashree Ralhan

* Kapil Sarin

* Karuturi Ramakrishna

* Mayumath, Nagaraj, Ravi, Sangamanath Kurugod

* Munukutla Ramalakshmi

* Murali PA, Rukmani Murali

* Muthuswamy Poobalan

* Pavan Arun Salve

* Pradeep Ramanarasimha Setty Kare

* Prem Bhatia

* Pritam Sen

* Priya & Manohar Durai

Source: TOI-BGLR