Paradise Papers: Top coaching institute FIITJEE named in leak
One of the Indian names that came up in the Paradise Papers leak is coaching class franchise FIITJEE. In July'15, Mauritius-based QLearn sold 19,52,907 shares of FIITJEE worth over Rs. 36cr to Mumbai-based Ambit Group. Interestingly, while the former is a subsidiary of Qatar's Qinvest, the latter is an investee company. It effectively means shares were sold between Qinvest's own companies. Find out more.
What are the Paradise Papers?
A cache of 13.4 million documents of financial data was leaked to German newspaper Sddeutsche Zeitung by an unknown source. The papers were then shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists which worked in partnership with 96 global news organizations. In India, The Indian Express has investigated the financial data. The disclosure comes a year after the explosive Panama Papers leak.
A profile of the firms involved in the FIITJEE deal
Qinvest, according to its website, is "Qatar's leading financial services firm" with operations across the Middle East and Europe. The firm, whose shareholders include the Qatar Islamic Bank, has authorized capital of $1bn and paid-up capital of $750mn. The Ambit Group owns at least nine companies with the same Mumbai address. FIITJEE has over 50 centres in India and abroad, mainly in Qatar and Bahrain.
Details about the transaction as recorded by Appleby
Records of offshore legal firm Appleby show a declaration by Qinvest dated July 16, 2015, that QLearn, "our wholly owned subsidiary, shall…execute all documents as required (for) the share purchase agreement dated 24 April 2014…between us, Ambit and QLearn and the Deed". QLearn, the "owner", stated it had agreed to sell shares of FIITJEE to Ambit Capital and confirmed a transfer of Rs. 36cr.
What do the companies have to say about the allegations?
Ambit Capital has accepted the transaction and claims it was "reported in tax returns and publicly disclosed in the audited balance sheet". It is compliant with FEMA and RBI guidelines, it stated. However, FIITJEE termed The Indian Express' report and request for response a "violation of privacy" and only said that "all (necessary) information are already disclosed to authorities concerned". QInvest hasn't responded yet.
Other Indians named in the Paradise Papers
Of the 180 countries mentioned in the data, India ranks 19th when it comes to the number of names. Overall, 714 Indians have been named. Interestingly, the Nand Lal Khemka-founded Indian company, Sun Group, is Appleby's second largest client, having 118 different offshore entities. Amitabh Bachchan, Vijay Mallya, MoS for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha and controversial corporate lobbyist Niira Radia have been named.