Megastar Amitabh Bachchan, who was among the 500 Indians named in the Panama Papers leak for having offshore accounts in the tax haven, participated in the board meetings of two of the firms he was appointed as the director of in the early 1990s, the Indian Express reported on Thursday.
An exposé by German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung in collaboration with International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) showed that Bachchan was the director of four offshore companies — one in the British Virgin Islands and three in the Bahamas — between 1993 and 1997, a claim that he rejected.
However, new records obtained by the IE suggested that Bachchan was part of the board meetings of Tramp Shipping Limited in Bahamas and Sea Bulk Shipping Company Limited in British Virgin Islands held on Dec.12, 1994, through "telephone conference."
At the board meeting, the directors reportedly passed a resolution approving a $1.75 million loan to Constellation Ship Management (Bahamas) Limited from Dallah Albaraka Investment Company (DAICO) for the purchase of all the shares issued by Tramp Shipping and held by Sea Bulk Shipping.
According to the ICIJ and German newspaper's revelation on Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca's documents, Bachchan was appointed as the director of Lady Shipping Limited, Treasure Shipping Limited and the two above-mentioned companies in 1993.
Bachchan has repeatedly denied the allegations and said his name has been "misused."
"On the Panama disclosures, I wish to state that queries continue to be sent to me by the media. I would humbly request them to kindly direct these to the GOI (Government of India) where I, as a law abiding citizen have already sent, and shall continue to send, my responses. I stand by my earlier statement on the 'misuse of my name' in the matter and in any event the press reports do not disclose any illegal act committed by me," the IE quoted the actor as saying.
Although the disclosures in the Panama Papers leak have not been verified by the government authorities yet, it seems to have already affected Bachchan. The Ministry of Tourism is reportedly rethinking its decision to make him the face of Incredible India or Atulya Bharat campaign.
Union Minister of Finance Arun Jaitley vowed strict against against "unlawful" account holders after excerpts of the leaked documents were published by some of the leading media organisations across the world. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also sought first status report on the matter. Meanwhile, the Income Tax (Investigation) unit has dispatched detailed questionnaires to 50 Indian clients of Mossack Fonseca.
The law firm had earlier this month said the documents were not leaked but "hacked by servers abroad."