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Veil lifts: Big-ticket defaulters at home have millions stashed abroad

These details, to be featured in the coming days in the investigative series, include a set of Mumbai-based businessmen in the real-estate sector who owe Indian banks more than Rs 88,000 crore.

Anil Ambani isn’t the only one who declares bankruptcy and has assets in complicated offshore networks. Secret records of Pandora Papers investigated by The Indian Express show several cases of big-ticket loan defaulters who declare themselves bankrupt before recovery tribunals – some have even arrested – but hold billions via offshore entities abroad.

These details, to be featured in the coming days in the investigative series, include a set of Mumbai-based businessmen in the real-estate sector who owe Indian banks more than Rs 88,000 crore.

These businessmen are in jail and since 2007, Pandora papers reveal, they set up a string of offshore companies in the BVI and in the Bahamas and one of them was set up to hold sizeable assets.

Also in the housing sector, is a Delhi-based businessman named in the 2G Spectrum case, who, the Pandora papers reveal, set up two BVI companies and a family trust along with his wife.

Way back in 2009, his company defaulted on servicing a $210- million loan from Credit Suisse for investing in realty projects in India. The builder is also in jail for allegedly cheating homebuyers.

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Three years ago, when investigators were busy probing criminal cases for an alleged bank loan fraud of over $2.1 billion, a prominent Indian businessman fled India and was busy collecting character certificates from Nigerian banks and solicitors to float a string of companies in the BVI to expand his oil business.

There is also a Mumbai-based jeweller, whose firm has defaulted to the tune of Rs 500 crore on loan repayments to 19 Indian banks, and, records show, set up a web of offshore firms with cross holdings to route funds along with a billionaire Saudi-businessman linked to a Mexican drug lord.

Then there is a Kolkata-based businessman, slapped with the biggest ever Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) notice of Rs 7,220 crore, who has opened offshore firms in the BVI through Trident Trust Company, records from The Pandora Papers reveal.

Besides those operating from India, there are several prominent NRIs, too, who borrowed heavily from Indian banks and despite recovery and attachment proceedings, they are yet to disclose details of their massive offshore company network and the assets these hold.

For instance, there is an NRI businessman, operating from the UAE, who was detained last year on a visit to India and his dues to Indian banks have been pegged at Rs 2,800 crore. Again, judges hearing his bank loan default cases have, in recent orders, underlined how he has not disclosed his “other assets.”

Among these assets are a maze of offshore companies, mostly set up by The Trident Trust, with his family members being among the shareholders, Pandora records reveal.

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