Influential tribal and non-tribal businessmen and a retired technocrat from Meghalaya have been named in the Panama Papers as shareholders of off shore entities in notorious tax havens managed by the much maligned financial management company Mossack Fonseca. Initial investigation of the recent data dump bythe International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) names Earce Clifford Kharsyntiew, Less Shylla , Bokstar Kurkalang, Karishma Jain, Karan Jain, Reshmi Rohit Jain, Philip Palamalki and Kenneth Fletcher Rangad as shareholders in at least two off shore companies Azure Enterprises Global Inc. and Eternal Enterprises Inc. These companies are based in British Virgin Island and have addresses in Cyprus.
On further investigation with the addresses as they appear in the leaked documents, it was found that there are no such persons named Philip Palamalki (R/O Malki; Shilong; East Khasi Hills; Dist; Meghalaya 793 009) and Less Shylla (R/OJaintia Hills; Sutnga; Elaka; 793200; also Latyrke Village; Po-Khliehriat; Jaintia Hilla – 793200; Meghalaya; India) in Meghalaya, but there are Philip Pala and Lesly Shylla who are publicly listed as directors of ALPHA MILLENNIUM FOODS PRIVATE LIMITED, COSMOS WAHIAJER NARPUH CEMENTS PRIVATE LIMITED, SUTNGA CEMENTS LIMITED, MAI HOTELS LIMITED, CMJ Realtors & Developers Private Limited. Mr. Lesly Shylla is known more as the promoter behind Shillong’s most (in)famous landmark – the Crowborough Hotel and Mr. Philip Pala as the younger brother of the present Congress M.P from Shillong and ex-Minister of Water Resources in the UPA II Government, Shri Vincent Pala.
Mr. Bokstar Kurkalang (R/O3 1/2 Mile; Upper Shillong; East Khasi Hills Dist; Meghalaya 793 009; India) is also a director of Megha Infracon Private Limited along with Mr. Philip Pala.
These three are in one way or the other also part of CMJ group based out of Assam and Meghalaya with offices in Mumbai. Reshmi Rohit Jain (R/O401 Landmark Building; Road No 5; JVPD Scheme; Juhu; Mumbai; India; 400 056) and Karan Jain (R/O401 Landmark Building; Road No 5; JVPD Scheme; Juhu; Mumbai; India; 400 056) are co-directors of K R K REALTORS AND DEVELOPERS PRIVATE LIMITED , AEGIS REALTORS & DEVELOPERS PRIVATE LIMITED and K K IMPEX AND TRADING PRIVATE LIMITED located at 503, 5TH FLOOR, CRYSTAL PLAZA BUILDING, ANDHERI GHATKOPER LINK ROAD, CHAKALA, ANDHERI (EAST),
MUMABI – 400099, Maharashtra INDIA. This incidentally is also the marketing office of CMJ Breweries which was headed by one Mr. Rohit Jain.
These off shore money parking businessmen and women have long standing local ties. Local activists and NGOs have long alleged that non-tribal business interests have used local tribals as conduits to channel money, subsidies, tax benefits etc that would otherwise be denied to them according to the laws of the state.
(L) Kenneth Fletcher Rangad, resident of Queen Villa; Laban; HAri; Sabha; Shillong; 793001; India was a senior technocrat in Industries department of Govt. of Meghalaya when the single window policy of the state was implemented to supposedly industrialize Meghalaya through tax sops and special industrial zones. Many of the non-tribal businesses came up by way of such policies. Is the name Earce Clifford Kharsyntiew mentioned in Panama Papers the same one as Earle Clifford Kharsyntiew (R/O Latyrke Village; Po-Khliehriat; Jaintia Hilla – 793200; Meghalaya; India) director of RKB Cements?
The Panama Papers are an unprecedented leak of 11.5m files from the database of the world’s fourth biggest offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca. The records were obtained from an anonymous source by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, which shared them with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). The ICIJ then shared them with a large network of international partners, including the Guardian and the BBC and just a few days ago did a searchable data dump. The documents show the various ways in which the rich can exploit secretive offshore tax regimes. Among national leaders with offshore wealth are Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan’s prime minister; Ayad Allawi, ex-interim prime minister and former vice-president of Iraq; Petro Poroshenko, president of Ukraine; Alaa Mubarak, son of Egypt’s former president; and the prime minister of Iceland, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson. In India, prominent names such as Amitabh Bachchan and Goa politician Mr. Salgaokar and son of Mr. Raman Singh, BJP Chief minister of Chattisgarh have been named in the papers.
What was long suspected but constantly denied, this nexus of non tribal business money and its relationship to tribal elite is now partially out. This nexus which exploits Meghalaya’s resources and sucks public money will look for every means to maximize its interest including parking its money in off-shore tax havens.
Panama Papers may yet hold more surprises for Meghalaya.