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Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar and his family members have been mentioned in a list of more than 300 world leaders, politicians and influential figures who allegedly used global tax havens as part of their complex tax arrangements .
The Pandora Papers investigation, which involved a consortium of some 600 journalists from a variety of global media outlets, is based on the leak of 11.9 million documents from 14 financial services companies around the globe.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) obtained the documents, which were then passed on to BBC, The Guardian and 150 other media outlets across the world. The leaked documents lay bare how the global elite use offshore tax havens to store and move their money.
Tendulkar, his wife Anjali Tendulkar and father-in-law Anand Mehta were “beneficial owners” of an offshore entity called Saas International Limited in the British Virgin Islands, which was liquidated in 2016, according to The Indian Express, the Indian newspaper which is part of the ICIJ and has investigated the leaked financial data linked to India for a year.
According to investigations by Alcogal, a Panama law firm that is part of the Pandora Papers investigation, Saas International Limited was liquidated three months after the Panama Papers exposé . At the time of liquidation, its shares were bought back by shareholders. The average buyback price of the shares of Saas International Limited was around $96,000.
While 90 shares of the company were issued at the outset, the first share certificate with 60 shares was in the name of Ms Tendulkar, while the second share certificate was issued to her father with 30 shares. There were no details of buyback of the remaining shares, but the value of 90 shares was $8.6 million.
The company was formed on 10 August, 2007, and liquidated in 2016. During this time, Tendulkar was nominated to the Indian parliament. So in the Alcogal documents, Tendulkar appears as a “politically exposed person”.
His team has denied any illegalities.
“The referenced investment by Mr Tendulkar has been made by him from his tax paid funds under the Liberalised Remittance Scheme (LRS) and has been duly accounted for and declared in his tax returns,” Mrinmoy Mukherjee, CEO and director of the Sachin Tendulkar Foundation, told The Indian Express.
Around 35 world leaders and more than 100 billionaires are implicated in the Pandora Papers —considered one of the largest ever leaks of financial data. Among those named in the files are British prime minister Tony Blair, associates of Russian president Vladimir Putin, King Abdullah of Jordan, and Czech prime minister Andrej Babis.
In India, businessmen Anil Ambani and Kiran Mazumdar Shaw also feature on the list.