Pandora Papers: Rosy Blue rejigged its offshore network after Panama expose

None of these entities has any connection with India nor are within ambit of any Indian law: Dilip Mehta

It has figured in every offshore leak since the HSBC records in 2015, and Rosy Blue, among the largest diamond-trading firms in the world, is also in the Pandora Papers that reveal details of its current offshore investments until 2020.

Due diligence records of the Asiaciti Trust, Singapore, relating to setting up of new entities are mostly for Dilip Mehta, the youngest of the three Mehta brothers and CEO of Rosy Blue in Belgium (he left India in 1970). Asiaciti has categorised him as a PEP (Politically Exposed Person) and a “high-risk” client.

In earlier offshore investigations, five members of the Rosy Blue family were shown to have deposits of $53.63 million in the HSBC Geneva Bank (Offshore Leaks, 2015); in the Panama Papers (2016), members of the Rosy Blue family were named as beneficiaries of 24 offshore companies set up in tax havens such as BVI, Seychelles, and Mauritius.

The latest Pandora records show a continuing offshore company formation spree in tax havens such as Cook Islands and in Guernsey, the Channel Islands. Also evident is the rejig of Rosy Blue’s assets in tax havens, mostly in the year 2017, shortly after the Panama Papers expose.

The most voluminous set of data is on the formation of the Elmas Purpose Trust in Cook Islands in 2017, with a holding Hong Kong PTC (private trust company) called Elmas Company Limited.

There is also the setting up of Sparkle Purpose Trust to hold shares of a Hong Kong PTC called Sparkle Holding Limited. The approximate value of assets to be transferred to the Sparkle Trust is stated as $15 million.

There is a complex structure around the Elmas Trust of which Dilip Mehta is the Economic Settlor.

Its structure chart shows that Asiaciti is its Trustee and its donor and enforcer is British national Karl French, who is described as a consultant for the Mehtas.

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Emails of January 2017 show that setting up of the Elmas structure was a move by the Rosy Blue family to shift their PTC structure out of Singapore (using the same Directors) and to transfer

assets from their previous Guernsey and Jersey Trusts to it.

Following the setting up of the Elmas structure, representatives of Dilip Mehta were in communication with Asiaciti Trust for the sale of a property held by a Rosy Blue company with no details of its location or value.

Records list Dilip Mehta as a PEP “by association” at various places since his elder brother, Harshad Mehta, was the Honorary Consul of Armenia in Mumbai until 2014.

Also, Asiaciti has categorised Dilip Mehta as “high risk” due to the nature of his business (trading in diamonds), and countries in which he trades, including the UAE, South Africa, Israel and India.

Read | After Panama, it’s Pandora: facing regulatory heat, elite Indians find new ways to ringfence wealth in secret havens

There is a mention in emails dated January 2018 that while Asiaciti’s compliance teams did not find negative media records for Dilip Mehta, there was “adverse media” on his brother Harshad Mehta dating back to 2011.

The Sparkle Trust and company were also set up in 2017 with a structure similar to the Elmas entities. Again, Dilip Mehta is the Economic Settlor of the Trust, and Karl French is shown as its enforcer and asset contributor.

There are also documents of two old Rosy Blue Trusts operating from Guernsey, which, by 2017, are administered by Asiaciti on the letterhead of Elmas Hong Kong limited. The first is a Guernsey entity, The Veer Trust, set up in 1999. It names Dilip Mehta as the beneficiary and Settlor.

The second is Beech Settlement, also shown to be owned by Rosy Blue, and incorporated in Guernsey in 2004. Its present trustees are shown as Elmas Hong Kong.

Dilip Mehta is shown as Protector of the Beech Settlement, and Viraj Russell Mehta its Settlor. Viraj is the son of Dilip Mehta’s nephew, Russell Mehta. A Dubai address is given for him in documents.

The latest information of 2020 in the data is in connection with a BVI company Kilian Holdings Limited. Along with Dilip Mehta, Viraj Russell Mehta, is also its shareholder. A resolution of Kilian Holdings Limited dated March 4, 2020 shows Dilip Mehta was appointed its Director.

When contacted, Dilip Mehta told The Indian Express: “I am a Belgian national for several decades and none of the matters covered by you concern India or breach of any laws in India or any other jurisdiction.”

Any restructuring, he said, is part of “internationally accepted succession planning for a person who has assets in multiple jurisdictions. None of my extended family living in India have any interest whatsoever with any of the entities scrutinised and researched by you nor do these entities have any connection, economically or otherwise, with India nor are they within the ambit of any Indian law. Rosy Blue India has no connection with the entities to which you make a reference. As stated before, I am a foreign national and so is Viraj.”

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