Hiroo Advani, lawyer and co-founder of Business India magazine, and his wife Nita Hiroo Advani owned two offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and Seychelles, records in the Pandora Papers studied by The Indian Express.
Nita Advani was also co-owner of a third offshore company in BVI with Tony Jashanmal, group director of a family-owned retail and distribution empire in the Gulf.
The records of the Pandora Papers show that a Swiss private bank, Clariden Leu, was authorized to give instructions for the management of the affairs of the three offshore entities. The London address of Clariden Leu has been recorded as the business address of these companies.
Hiroo Advani founded Advani & Co, India’s “oldest specialist arbitration practice” in 1986. The law firm’s website describes him as a “world authority on arbitration law” and “one of only two Indian lawyers ever listed in the International Who’s Who of Commercial Arbitrators”.
Previously, together with his brothers Ashok and Rajkumar, he had founded Business India, a bimonthly, in 1978.
According to Indian Companies Register (RoC) records, Nita Hiroo Advani has been the Director since 2006 of Chryssa Real Estate Pvt Ltd in Mumbai (with a 99.9% stake). The records also show a different director identification number for Nita Hiroo Advani for her listing as a director in Narayani Properties And Estate Developers Pvt Ltd in Goa (with a 95% stake).
Holder of an Indian passport, Jhangiani Tony Naraindas Jashanmal runs the Jashanmal group which began its journey in 1919 when his grandfather established his first department store in Basra, Iraq.
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Today, the group operates more than 150 stores in the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman, as well as a distribution network of consumer goods and services spanning more than 1,000 points of sale. .
On May 3, 2010, Hiroo and Nita provided compliance information as beneficial owners of Lidcote Ltd, a company incorporated in BVI, and Faraday International Limited, which was incorporated in Seychelles.
On the same day, Nita and Tony Jashanmal provided details of compliance as beneficial owners of Batheath Ltd, which was incorporated in BVI.
Lidcote (BVI) was established in December 2006, Batheath (BVI) in March 2008 and Faraday International (Seychelles) in December 2008.
In compliance cases, Advanis and Jashanmal were represented by Clariden Leu Asset Management (UK) Ltd, a subsidiary of Credit Suisse until its acquisition by Swiss wealth management firm Falcon Private Bank in 2013.
The Advanis and Jashanmals declared inheritance, personal and business property as a source of funds for these businesses.
In addition to serving as holding and investment companies, these three entities have listed businesses on offer ranging from real estate, oil and mining to money transfer and jewelry. The beneficiaries used directors, secretaries and shareholders for all three companies.
In a resolution of July 5, 2010, Faraday International (Seychelles) recorded that “the Company borrows from Clariden Leu Ltd and has pledged (all / part) of its assets held with Clariden Leu Ltd as collateral” on May 11, 2010.
Earlier in February 2009, Clariden Leu wrote to business service provider Cook Worldwide on behalf of Hiroo Advani for the establishment of a Mauritius company as a wholly owned subsidiary of Batheath Limited (BVI). This communication was copied to Hiroo Advani.
One of the goals of the proposed Mauritian company, Clariden Leu wrote, would be “to invest in real estate investments, including hotel and hotel projects in India”.
In 2017, the exhibition records, the two BVI companies – Batheath Limited and Lidcote Limited – were struck off the register. Faraday International (Seychelles) was due to be struck off in June 2016, but its status remains unclear.
In an email response to questions from The Indian Express, Hiroo Advani said, “These are NRI client companies and as far as I know the clients shut them down about 10 years ago. Do not have any other information because you did not keep old files. Nita Advani has never had a stake in Batheath Ltd (BVI). Tony Jashanmal has been a businessman in the Gulf for 50 years and I am not aware of his business connections. Nita Advani’s national businesses are all local businesses and all returns have been filed and taxes paid.
In an email response, Jashanmal said, “I am a non-resident Indian and have lived and run business outside of India for over 50 years. I have no recollection of ever having a Batheath Limited (BVI) offshore company.
“Anyway, it’s so long ago and even I had such a company that it was never activated and couldn’t have funds over $ 100. Have held no shares with Nita Hiroo Advani and never in the past and present has any kind of commercial interest, ownership or other business relationship with her, ”he said.