What ‘bankrupt’ Anil Ambani didn’t say: his $ 1.3 billion offshore business network
The court observed that “there are questions about the extent to which Mr. Ambani has offshore interests, because if so, they have not been declared.”
Three months later, he was ordered to pay the banks $ 716 million. But he did not and denied having any valid asset or beneficial interest in any entity in the world.
The Pandora Papers records studied by The Indian Express reveal that the chairman of the Reliance ADA group and his representatives own at least 18 offshore companies in Jersey, the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and Cyprus (see graph).
Created between 2007 and 2010, seven of these companies have borrowed and invested at least $ 1.3 billion.
In Jersey, Anil Ambani owned three companies – Batiste Unlimited, Radium Unlimited and Hui Investment Unlimited – which were incorporated between December 2007 and January 2008.
Batiste Unlimited and Radium Unlimited are owned by Reliance Innoventures Pvt Ltd, the ultimate holding company of ADA Group. Hui Investment Unlimited is owned by AAA Enterprises Ltd (Reliance Inceptum Pvt Ltd since 2014), which is a promotion company of Reliance Capital.
The records also show that two other companies incorporated in Jersey in January 2008 – Summerhill Ltd and Dulwich Ltd – are owned by a “representative of Anil Ambani”, identified as Anup Dalal.
Dalal also owned a BVI company – Reindeer Holdings Ltd – which was used for investment management.
Three other Jersey companies linked to Anil Ambani and incorporated in January 2008 are: Laurence Mutual; Richard Equity Ltd and German Equity Limited, all beneficially owned by a lawyer in Geneva.
Records show that the service providers who managed these companies recorded that seven of them received loans from banks that were “guaranteed by Reliance / Anil Ambani, in order to make investments… For the investments that were made, the funds were then in turn loaned by the companies to other companies.
🗞️ Read the best investigative journalism in India. Subscribe to the Indian Express e-Paper here.
Some key transactions, as investigated by The Indian Express:
Unlimited Batiste and Unlimited Radium, according to the records, borrowed $ 500 million and $ 220 million respectively from ICICI to acquire CCPS (mandatory convertible preferred shares) in AAA Corporation Pvt Ltd, a real estate company linked to Ambani in Mumbai.
Dulwich borrowed $ 33 million from Rockcliffe Group Limited, UK, and invested it under an underwriting agreement with a private fund based in Mauritius. Significantly, this fund sold a three percent stake in Pipavav Shipyard, now Anil Ambani promoted to Reliance Naval, in 2009-10.
Summerhill Ltd bought 90% of a company identified as “GNPTL” – details not yet available – and transferred the stake to Reliance Globalcom BV, a company in the Netherlands.
Laurence Mutual, Richard Equity Ltd and German Equity Limited together invested $ 47.5 million, borrowed from Barclays, in an entity identified as Adventis Funds. The investments, showing records, were made in March 2009 and “loaned”.
In the British Virgin Islands, Anil Ambani owned Northern Atlantic Consultancy Services Group Unlimited and its two subsidiaries Northern Atlantic Trading Unlimited and Northern Atlantic Investments Unlimited. All three were created in 2010.
The first two companies were liquidated in March 2018.
In BVI, Anil Ambani owned another company, Trans-Pacific Holdings Pvt Ltd, which was formed in March 2009. Its two subsidiaries, Trans-Atlantic Holdings Pvt Ltd and Trans-Americas Holdings Pvt Ltd, were incorporated in 2009. Trans-Americas Holdings , according to records, was active at least until 2017.
In June 2009, records show that an agreement was signed between Trans-Americas Holding (BVI) and three Cypriot companies for a loan of $ 500 million. Standard Chartered Bank, London, was the security trustee for this arrangement.
In this context, another agreement was signed between Trans-Atlantic Holding and Trans-Americas Holding and Reliance Innoventures Pvt Ltd, the ultimate holding company of the Anil Ambani group.
By virtue of this, Trans-Americas Holding had the right to ask Reliance Innoventures “to subscribe for common shares”.
The three Cypriot companies went into voluntary liquidation this year.
Asked about these offshore companies and transactions, a lawyer, on behalf of Anil Ambani, said: “Our client is a tax resident of India and has made disclosures to Indian authorities as required by law. All required considerations were taken into account in the disclosures to the London court. The Reliance Group operates worldwide and for legitimate business and regulatory requirements companies are incorporated in different jurisdictions. “
In May 2020, Anil Ambani was ordered to pay $ 716 million to Chinese banks that have yet to take enforcement action due to a moratorium ordered by the Delhi High Court in insolvency proceedings of the State Bank of India against Anil Ambani.