Bollywood Stars Named in Panama Papers Leak
Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan has denied any links with offshore companies in tax havens while his daughter-in-law Aishwarya Rai Bachchan issued a statement saying the information was "totally untrue and false."
The Panama Papers have been widely covered in India after naming top Bollywood stars Amitabh Bachchan and his daughter-in-law Aishwarya Rai Bachchan among some 500 Indians with hidden overseas assets.
The revelations were published by the Indian Express newspaper, the local partner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists which published the Panama Papers worldwide. Over 11 million documents from the secret files of Mossack Fonseca, a law firm headquartered in the tax haven of Panama, were leaked naming top politicians, celebrities and other heavy hitters from various countries.
The Express stated that, back in 1993, Bachchan was appointed director in at least four offshore shipping companies which were registered in tax havens. Three of these were registered in the Bahamas with another in the British Virgin Islands.
According to the newspaper, "The authorized capital of these companies ranged between a modest $5,000-50,000 but they traded in ships worth millions of dollars."
The newspaper also added that it had earlier attempted to solicit a response from the actor and his company AB Corporation, but did not get a response.
Bachchan finally issued an official statement Tuesday denying any links with the offshore companies, stating that he was never a director in any of them and added, "It is possible my name has been misused."
"I have paid all my taxes including on monies spent by me overseas," the statement added. "Monies that I have remitted overseas have been in compliance with law, including remittances through LRS (Liberalised Remittance Scheme) after paying Indian taxes. In any event, the news report in Indian Express does not even suggest any illegality on my part."
With a career spanning over four decades, Bachchan is one of India's most revered film icons whose career also includes a long stint in television hosting the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. He made his Hollywood debut with an appearance in Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby.
The Express also reported that Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and members of her family were directors of an offshore firm registered in the British Virgin Islands in 2005 before the company was dissolved in 2008.
The actress and former Miss World, who is married to Amitabh's actor son Abhishek, also issued a statement via her media advisor Archana Sadanand who was quoted stating: “What is this consortium (ICIJ) and what does it do? Is this an authorized entity and how do we know that the information they get is authentic? All information that you have is totally untrue and false."