Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Manorama Family's Arun Mammen in the List of Black Money


The 16th name on the Swindlers' List

Is a Mammen from MRF

Arun Mammen

BY Sai Manish

New Delhi

Four days ago, TEHELKA had released a list of 15 names in the black money list handed over by the German government to India in 2009. Now, we are revealing the 16th name in the list: a member of the Mammen family from MRF.

This 16th name is a part of the list that the government handed over to the Supreme Court. Like the other 15, the 16th person too is believed to have parked money in the LGT Bank of Liechtenstein.

The Mammens are a strong family-owned business with a hierarchy where three generations are on the MRF board. The founder of MRF, the late MK Mammen Mappillai, was a Padma Shri awardee.

It is not known whether the Mammens own accounts in other Swiss banks but their name stands out in the list handed over to Indian authorities by the German government.

TEHELKA tried to contact Arun Mammen, Managing Director of the MRF Board, for four days with repeated calls to his office, his cousin Koshi Verghese, and his communications office. Calls made till Friday, the last working day of the week in MRF's registered office at Greams Road in Chennai, were answered by his secretary Malti.

Malti gave varied answers like “Mr Mammen is not in office”, “He has gone home for lunch”, and “He is in a meeting.” On Monday, Mammen's office stopped answering calls from TEHELKA.

Arun Mammen has also not responded to two emails sent by TEHELKA seeking his side of the story. Sources say Arun Mammen has been questioned by Income Tax authorities and has paid his dues. The case against him is closed, the sources add. But, TEHELKA has no official confirmation on this.

Here is the email that TEHELKA sent to Arun Mammen, which he did not respond to.

Mr Arun Mammen,
I would like to inform you that we will be publishing your name in the list of account holders with LGT bank. Many people have already splashed your name on TV screens and on the net. I request you to answer the following questions:
When did you first start this account with LGT bank?
How much money have you stashed away in this account?
Have you been served a notice by the government?
Why did you chose LGT of all banks to stash your money?
Will you be willing to pay tax and avoid further complications?
Will you reveal other accounts you may be holding elsewhere?

Kindly reply at the earliest so that we can also publish your version.

Here is a brief on the Mammens on the MRF Board:

Rahul Mammen

KM Mammen: Is the Executive Chairman of the MRF Board. Graduated from the Madras Christian College, joined MRF as a full time director in 1981. He is one of the key men behind the success of the MRF Pace Foundation and takes active interest in cricket, having also served as the Vice-Presidentof the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association.

Arun Mammen: Managing Director of the MRF Board. He is a regular at the MRF racetrack at Sriperumbudur on the outskirts of Chennai. He is known to be close to the Congress and the DMK leaderships in Kerala and Tamil Nadu respectively.

Rahul Mammen: Is a third generation director on the MRF Board and was drafted in November 2010. This 32-year-old is the eldest son of KM Mammen and is a graduate from St. Stephen’s College, New Delhi, and an MBA from the University of Michigan Business school. He is known to formulate long term business plans for the group.

KC Mammen: Is a non-executive director on the board and was a professor of paediatrics at the Christian Medical College in Vellore. Not involved too much in the day-to-day working of MRF.

The First report by Tehelka

Indian Black Money: The Swindler’s List

ASHISH KHETAN accesses the black list that has been kept away from Indians for two years

It is almost two years since the German Government had passed on the names and bank account details of eighteen Indians who had stashed their alleged ill-gotten wealth in the LGT bank of Liechtenstein, a well-known tax haven nation, 190 km from Munich, Germany.

Germany had officially handed over the list to the Indian Government on 18 March 2009. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee have since said more than once that this list cannot be disclosed to the Indian people. Opposition parties like the BJP and the Left Front have repeatedly said the names must be disclosed. The BJP has been accusing the government of shielding the names of the tax evaders and not doing enough to bring back the crores of rupees stashed away in tax havens.

Thus, the list has become a subject of tremendous controversy and suspense.

TEHELKA has accessed 16 of the 18 names, of which we are putting out 15 right now. These names include individuals as well as trusts. At this point, we are putting out 15 names without disclosing details like their addresses, the businesses they are involved in and the total money they have stored away in Liechtenstein. Abiding by the basic journalistic principle of proving the accused an opportunity to present their side of story, TEHELKA has approached each of these individuals involved and is awaiting their response.

Once these individuals respond, we shall share the full details of who these people are and what they do. We shall also put out their responses. This, then, is the list.

1. Manoj Dhupelia

2. Rupal Dhupelia

3. Mohan Dhupelia

4. Hasmukh Gandhi

5. Chintan Gandhi

6. Dilip Mehta

7. Arun Mehta

8. Arun Kochar

9. Gunwanti Mehta

10. Rajnikant Mehta

11. Prabodh Mehta

12. Ashok Jaipuria

13. Raj Foundation

14. Urvashi Foundation

15. Ambrunova Trust

The three trusts in this list are registered outside India.

The government has been claiming so far that a detailed investigation into all the bank account details provided by Germany is underway and making the names public would violate the agreement between two sovereign countries, India and Germany.

According to highly placed sources, the investigation into the 15 names that TEHELKA is disclosing, is close to completion and the Central Board of Direct taxes would soon prosecute these trusts and individuals under the relevant provisions of the Income tax Act.

The sources told TEHELKA that the two main charges proved against these individuals are of tax evasion and concealment of income.

The authorities also believe that some of these account holders could be fronts for high profile individuals. One name in particular is being investigated for suspected links with a well-known Indian politician.

The name of the chairman of a major Indian corporation is also part of the list, but TEHELKA is holding back his name until we have his full version.

According to Pranab Mukherjee, the German Government has provided the information under the strict confidentiality clauses of the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement, and hence they could not be disclosed at the stage of investigation.

However, once the government launches prosecutions, the name would be made public, he had said.

These 18 names are part of the list of 1,400 clients, which were stolen from the databank of LGT Group, the Liechtenstein bank owned by the principality's ruling family, and passed on to German tax authorities in 2008.

The German government had paid as much as €5 million, or $7.4 million, for information on German account holders in Liechtenstein on a disk provided by an informant to the German Federal Intelligence Service, or BND.

After this, Germany and England had launched massive investigations into the suspected tax evasions and have since prosecuted dozens of their citizens on charges of tax evasion and concealment of income.

The German Government alone had initiated action against over 600 of its tax payers.

Besides taking action against its own citizens, the German Government had also shared this information with other countries including India.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh: "Investigations are on"

But the Indian names figuring in LGT Bank list are only a tip of the iceberg. Experts estimate that Rs 65 lakh crores of ill-gotten wealth earned by Indians is stored in Swiss banks alone.

According to R Vaidyanathan, Professor of Finance at the Indian Institute of Management, Bengaluru, the average amount stashed away by Indians in offshore tax havens between 2002 and 2006 was $136.5 billion. “These illegal funds lying in tax havens are not just related to the issue of tax evasion. It is capital flight from India and part of a corrupt nexus between politicians, bureaucrats and corporate companies,” says Vaidyanathan.

Different Indian governments over the past 20 years have done little to bring this money back by making necessary changes in existing Indian taxation and foreign exchange management laws.

Besides, the government has been slow in renegotiating double taxation avoidance treaties with different tax havens and making provisions for clauses under which the governments and banks could be compelled to disclose the account details.

For instance, under the existing Indo-Swiss Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA), information on the Swiss bank deposits of Indian residents could not to be revealed until the Indian Government furnishes evidence of criminality behind these banking transactions.

Pranab Mukherjee: "We can't reveal the names"

India enters into DTAAs with other countries to encourage flow of foreign capital and technology, and also to check tax evasion. The purpose of a DTAA is to mitigate the hardship caused by dual taxation on the same source of income. Double taxation on a single source earned by an individual is possible under income tax, as taxation depends not on citizenship, but on residential status.

To date, India has signed comprehensive double taxation avoidance agreements with 77 countries.

“I have asked the revenue department to reopen negotiations for all 77 double tax avoidance agreements with all countries that we have entered into so far, so that we can have real time exchange of information on tax evasion and tax avoidance,” Mukherjee had said at the India Economic Summit in November 2009.

Since the recession hit the economies of developed countries, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has been leading a campaign for transparency in the international banking system, and making the tax havens to necessarily exchange information with other countries where tax evasions are involved.

The US in particular has been proactive in using the might of its economy to make different tax havens fall in line, and share the names of US citizens who have deposited money in these tax havens.

For instance, the UBS Bank, a Swiss bank and the world’s largest wealth management company, came under US scrutiny in June 2008 to uncover the identity of US nationals who maintained secret accounts in the bank and were defrauding the American revenue department.

When the US Government threatened to prosecute the USB Bank, the bank paid a fine of $780 million and also agreed to reveal the details of the hidden assets of US nationals within a fixed time frame failing which it would face prosecution.


Sandhya S.N said...

let us wait for the shocking updates of the list.
Thank for sharing

Kishore lal, kakkad said...

good work..keet it on ...till be verified..

Sony, Chathannoor said...

It's not surprising to see someone from MRF getting in a shady financial activity. The very beginning of MRF was with the CIA sponsored money to Malayala Manorama in praise of the good work done in bringing down EMS Ministry.

Anonymous said...

a real shame for the country and people.Indians want a leader with tough backbone

Anonymous said...

മലയാള മനോരമയും ഇന്റഗ്രേറ്റഡ് ഫൈനാന്‍സും

മലയാള മനോരമ പത്രസ്ഥാപനത്തിന്റേതാണ് ഇന്റഗ്രേറ്റഡ് ഫിനാന്‍സ് കമ്പനി എന്നാണ് അതില്‍ നിക്ഷേപം നടത്തിയിട്ടുള്ള എല്ലാവരേയും വിശ്വസിപ്പിച്ചിരുന്നതത്രേ. കമ്പനി പൊട്ടിയതോടെ മനോരമയില്‍ വിശ്വാസം അര്‍പ്പിച്ചിരുന്നവര്‍ ചതിയില്‍പ്പെട്ടതുപോലെയായി. അനേകര്‍ ചോരനീരാക്കി ജോലി ചെയ്തുണ്ടാക്കി നിക്ഷേപിച്ച കോടിക്കണക്കിനു രൂപ മിടുക്കന്മാരുടെ കൈയിലുമായി. ഇന്റഗ്രേറ്റഡ് കമ്പനി മനോരമയുടേതാണെന്നു വിശ്വസിച്ചു നിക്ഷേപം നടത്തിയ ഒരു നിക്ഷേപകന്‍ 2005 ഓഗസ്റ്റ് 12-ന് അന്നത്തെ ചീഫ് എഡിറ്റര്‍ക്കയച്ച കത്ത്. അതിനു മറുപടി കിട്ടിയില്ലെന്നും പ്രമുഖ പത്രമാധ്യമങ്ങള്‍ ഇതു പ്രസിദ്ധീകരിക്കാന്‍ തയാറായില്ലെന്നും അറിയിച്ചിട്ടുണ്ട്.

ശ്രീ കെ.എം.മാത്യു,
ചീഫ് എഡിറ്റര്‍,
മലയാള മനോരമ,


വളരെ വിഷമത്തോടെയാണ് ഈ കത്ത് എഴുതുന്നത്. ഇന്റഗ്രേറ്റഡ് ഫിനാന്‍സ് കമ്പനി ലിമിറ്റഡില്‍ എന്റെ ബന്ധുക്കളുടേതടക്കം അനേക ലക്ഷം രൂപ നിക്ഷേപിച്ചിട്ടുണ്ട്. 'ഒരു മനോരമ സ്ഥാപനം' എന്നു വ്യക്തമാക്കി തന്നെയാണ് ഇന്റഗ്രേറ്റഡ് നിക്ഷേപങ്ങള്‍ സ്വീകരിച്ചിട്ടുള്ളത്. മലയാള മനോരമ ചതിക്കില്ല എന്ന വിശ്വാസത്തിലാണ് പണം നല്കിയിരുന്നതും. എന്നാല്‍ സമീപ കാലത്ത് നിക്ഷേപത്തുക തിരികെയെടുക്കാന്‍ ചെന്നപ്പോഴാണ് കമ്പനി പൊട്ടിയെന്നും തുക തരാന്‍ യാതൊരു മാര്‍ഗമില്ലെന്നും ഓഫീസിലുണ്ടായിരുന്നവര്‍ അറിയിച്ചത്. എന്നാലും മനോരമ ഒരു പരിഹാരം ഉണ്ടാക്കുമെന്നു കരുതി കാത്തിരിക്കുക ആയിരുന്നു. മറ്റു പത്രങ്ങള്‍ വായിക്കാതെ മനോരമ മാത്രം വായിച്ചിരുന്നതിനാല്‍ പല കാര്യങ്ങളും അറിയാന്‍ വൈകുകയും ചെയ്തു. പിന്നീട് അല്പാല്പം വാര്‍ത്തകള്‍ ഇന്റഗ്രേറ്റഡിനു എതിരായി മനോരമയില്‍ കൊടുത്തുതുടങ്ങിയതു കണ്ടപ്പോള്‍, മനോരമ വിഷയത്തില്‍ നിന്നു കൈകഴുകാന്‍ തയാറെടുക്കുന്നതായും തോന്നി.

ഇന്നു (2005 ഓഗസ്റ്റ് 12 വെള്ളി) ഇന്റഗ്രേറ്റഡിന്റേതായി ഒരു അറിയിപ്പ് കണ്ടതിനാല്‍ മനോരമയുടെ സാരഥി എന്ന നിലയില്‍ അങ്ങ് ഈ വിഷയത്തില്‍ ഇടപെടണമെന്നു അഭ്യര്‍ഥിക്കാനാണ് ഈ കത്ത്. അല്ലെങ്കില്‍ അനീതിക്കും വഞ്ചനയ്ക്കും മറ്റുമെതിരേയുള്ള പത്രത്തിന്റെ നിലപാടുകള്‍ വെറുമൊരു മുഖംമൂടിയാണെന്നു വായനക്കാര്‍ കരുതേണ്ടി വരും. കൂടാതെ മറ്റേതു കഴുത്തറപ്പന്‍ ബ്ലേഡ് കമ്പനികളേയും പോലെ മനോരമയും തരംതാഴും. പ്രസംഗം ഒരു തരത്തിലും പ്രവൃത്തി മറ്റൊരു തരത്തിലും എന്ന നയമല്ല മനോരമയില്‍ നിന്നു വായനക്കാര്‍ പ്രതീക്ഷിക്കുന്നത്.

മലയാള മനോരമയും ഫിനാന്‍സ് കമ്പനിയുമായി യാതൊരു ബന്ധവുമില്ലെന്നാണ് അറിയിപ്പ്. എന്നാല്‍ മനോരമയില്‍ നിന്നു മൂലധന സമാഹരണം നടത്തിയിരുന്നതായി സമ്മതിക്കുകയും ചെയ്യുന്നു. ഇതില്‍ നിന്നു നിക്ഷേപകര്‍ എന്താണ് മനസിലാക്കേണ്ടത്. ഫിനാന്‍സ് കമ്പനി മനപൂര്‍വം പൊട്ടിക്കുന്നതിന്റെ ഭാഗമായി മനോരമയുടെ നിക്ഷേപം പിന്‍വലിച്ചുകഴിഞ്ഞുവെന്നോ. കുറേ പണം നിക്ഷേപിച്ചിരുന്നു എന്നതിന് എന്താണ് അര്‍ഥം. അതിനു കണക്കില്ലേ.

ഇന്നത്തെ അറിയിപ്പു മനോരമ തലയൂരാന്‍ സ്വയം നടത്തുന്ന ശ്രമങ്ങളുടെ ഭാഗമാണെന്നു ഏതു വായനക്കാരനും മനസിലാകും. ഉത്തരവാദപ്പെട്ടതും ഉയര്‍ന്ന നിലയിലുള്ള റേറ്റിങ്ങ് ഉണ്ടെന്നു അവകാശപ്പെട്ടിരുന്നതുമായ കമ്പനിയുടെ രജിസ്റ്റ്രേഡ് ഓഫീസിന്റെ മേല്‍വിലാസം പോലും അതില്‍ ചേര്‍ത്തിട്ടില്ല. മന:പൂര്‍വമുള്ള കള്ളത്തരത്തിന്റെ ലക്ഷണങ്ങളില്‍ ഒന്നാണത്. ഇന്റഗ്രേറ്റഡിന്റേത് അല്ല, അതിന്റെ പേരില്‍ മനോരമയുടേതാണ് ആ പരസ്യം. അതിനാല്‍ തന്നെ കൂടുതല്‍ വിവരങ്ങള്‍ മനോരമ വ്യക്തമാക്കേണ്ടതുണ്ട്.

ഒരോരോ കാര്യങ്ങള്‍ മനസില്‍ കണ്ടു നിക്ഷേപിച്ചിട്ടുള്ള തുകകള്‍ പണമായി തന്നെ നിക്ഷേപകര്‍ക്ക് തിരികെ ലഭിക്കണം. അല്ലാതെ കടപ്പത്രമായോ ഓഹരിയായോ അല്ല. കമ്പനിയുടെ ആ നിലപാടിനെയാണ് മനോരമ പിന്തുണയ്ക്കുന്നതെങ്കില്‍ അക്കാര്യം വ്യക്തമാക്കണം. അങ്ങനെയാണെങ്കില്‍ മനോരമ പ്രസിദ്ധീകരണങ്ങളുടെ വരിസംഖ്യയായും പരസ്യക്കൂലിയായും പണത്തിനു പകരം ഓഹരികളോ കടപ്പത്രമോ സാധനസാമഗ്രികളോ സ്വീകരിക്കുമെന്നു പ്രഖ്യാപിക്കാനുള്ള ആര്‍ജവം കാട്ടുകയും വേണം. പണത്തിനു പണം തന്നെയാണെന്നു വേണ്ടതെന്നു അങ്ങയെ പഠിപ്പിക്കേണ്ടതില്ലല്ലോ.


ജോസഫ് ചാക്കോ