Public Relations professional Niira Radia, known for the infamous "Radia tapes," has reportedly been named in the Panama Papers, which threw up names of the rich and powerful, including several heads of states, for setting up offshore companies with the help of Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca. Radia is among the 500 Indians who were named in the documents, which prompted Prime Minister Narendra Modi to order a probe.
Radia set up an offshore company named Crownmart International Group Limited that she registered with the help of Mossack Fonseca in the British Virgin Islands in 1994, according to the Indian Express, which was among the media organisations that investigated the Panama Papers. Radia's name appeared in the document trove without the extra "i" that she later added to her first name, and she was reportedly referred to as a British citizen, according to the report.
The mention of the corporate lobbyist in the Panama Papers is a veritable development, especially since the Income Tax Department had been probing alleged offshore assets linked to Radia and her flagship company Vaishnavi Communications. According to the Indian Express, "nothing was heard" on the probe even after five years, until the mention of Radia in the 232 documents about the Crownmart International Group Limited that were retrieved from Mossack Fonseca.
Radia's office however, said she was not a beneficiary of the company.
"Crownmart International Group Ltd. was a company owned and operated by Late Mr Iqbal Narain Menon, a British National (Ms Niira Radia's father). Subsequent to the demise of Ms Radia's father in 2003, this company went into administration/ liquidation perhaps in 2007," Radia's office told the newspaper.
"It is pertinent to mention that because Ms Radia was/is not a beneficiary of the company and, hence, Ms Radia is not the right person to comment on queries relating to this company," the statement said.
Radia had grabbed much media attention in the 2G spectrum scam probe in 2008-09, with her telephonic conversations with industrialists and journalists becoming public.
Apart from Radia, nearly 500 Indians were named in the Panama Papers, including actors Amitabh Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, for allegedly using services of Mossack Fonseca to set up companies in offshore tax havens.