Two firms owned by fugitive liquor baron Vijay Mallya carried out transactions with a Liberia-registered company named in the Panama Papers, British investigators have found.
The two entities controlled by Mallya— IQ Bridge, Mauritius, and its Indian subsidiary, IQ Bridge, Bangalore, had a stake in Kingfisher Airlines and the transactions happened after the airline got merged with Deccan Aviation, UK's Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) has found, reported The Indian Express.
These two companies have 15 lakh and 52 lakh equity shares respectively in Kingfisher Airlines. However, in 2007-08, Mallya transferred 89 of the 99 shares held in the IQ Bridge, Mauritius, to Liberia-registered Lombard Wall Corporate Services, the newspaper reported
SFIO said in a report that an overseas subsidiary of United Breweries based in the British Virgin Islands bought 1.67 crore shares of Kingfisher Airlines, nine days before it got merged with Deccan Aviation, for Rs 50.02 crore.
The SFIO report further revealed that in January 2008, the overseas subsidiary of United Breweries, UB Overseas Limited (UBOL) transferred its 1.67 crore shares in IQ Bridge, Mauritius, just a day before the swap ratio for the merger was announced.
After the merger and following the swap ratio agreement, IQ Bridge was allotted 78.15 lakh equity shares in KFAL (combined) for its shareholding of 1.82 crore shares in earlier KFAL, IE reported quoting the SFIO report.
KFAL (combined) refers to the company that was formed after Kingfisher Airlines' merger with Deccan Aviation.
"By transferring the shares allotted in erstwhile KFAL to IQBLM a day before the announcement of swap ratio (on 30.01.2008) and then by keeping out IQBLM as non-promoter entity during the demerger process, VJM (Vijay Mallya) was able to repay a major portion of the loan availed overseas by UBOL from the sale proceeds of KFAL (combined) shares. This was maneuvered by non-disclosure of material facts. Incidentally, the name of LWCSI (Lombard Wall Corporate Services Inc.) appears as one of the entities in Panama Papers Leak in connection with fraud related to tax evasions," SFIO stated in the report.