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Decoding the link between NuPower's largest shareholder and Panama papers

NuPower has been in the news after the allegations of ICICI Bank disbursing a loan to the Videocon group emerged

Sachin P Mampatta  |  Mumbai 

NuPower Renewables
Photo: NuPower Renewables

The largest shareholder in Renewables shares an address with an entity named in the Panama Papers, a global exposé of offshore financial dealings that came to light in 2016.

has been in the after the allegations of disbursing a loan to the Videocon group, which had ties with NuPower, started doing the rounds. The Central Bureau of Investigation, the Enforcement Directorate, and the income tax department are investigating the case, which involves allegations of a conflict of interest because founder Deepak Kochhar’s wife, Chanda Kochhar, heads All involved parties have denied impropriety.

Business Standard examined Registrar of documents, including shareholding patterns and past investors in the company. Some of the largest investors in the company have addresses mentioned in the database. This does not necessarily imply impropriety, but gains significance in the light of allegations surrounding

Records as of March 2017 show Holding held 3.2 million shares, equal to a 54.99 per cent stake, in Renewables. The address listed for the company is Intercontinental Trust, Level 3, Alexander House, 35 Cybercity, Ebene, Mauritius, which finds a mention in the Panama Papers’ list of offshore entities.

ALSO READ: CBI grills Chanda Kochhar's brother-in-law Rajiv, NuPower directors

Connecting the dots

  • Its listed address is Intercontinental Trust, Level 3, Alexander House, 35 Cybercity, Ebene, Mauritius
  • Firstland mentions its address as Les Cascades, Edith Cavell Street, Port Louis, Mauritius
  • Both addresses of and Firstland find mention in the Panama Papers

This is shown to be the address of a trust company, which itself is a trustee of another trust, and there are two shareholder entities mentioned, both of which are under the jurisdiction of the

acquired convertible cumulative preference shares of from Firstland Holdings, according to a 2014 disclosure.

Another document, which talks about the initial allotment of CCPS to Firstland, mentions its address as Les Cascades, Edith Cavell Street, Port Louis, Mauritius. This address, too, is found in the and is connected to entities, including an investment company and two other entities structured as trustees.

ALSO READ: Supreme Energy's stake in NuPower sold at market rate: Deepak Kochhar

The involved the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) collaborating with over 100 media partners. They collectively went through 11.5 million files leaked from a key Panama-based law firm It helped expose “the offshore holdings of world political leaders… details of the hidden financial dealings of fraudsters, drug traffickers, billionaires, celebrities…(and)…sports stars,” according to the ICIJ website.

The ICIJ, however, does point out that there may be genuine reasons behind such entities. “There are legitimate uses for offshore and trusts. We do not intend to suggest or imply that any people, or other entities included in the ICIJ Offshore Leaks Database have broken the law or otherwise acted improperly,” it said.

ALSO READ: Chanda Kochhar's conflict of interest? ICICI-Videocon controversy explained

Deepak Kochhar said both Firstland and are vehicles used by Accion, (named in company documents as Accion Diversified Strategies Fund SPC). He said they would be best placed to answer queries related to them.

But queries are not being answered by the entities involved. An email sent to an address on Accion’s website did not elicit a response. Business Standard called twice on their office number, but these went unanswered. Intercontinental Trust, too, did not respond to either a call placed to their Mauritius office or emails seeking comment. No comments were received from and did not respond to the email sent. Chairman did not respond to a call and a text message requesting comment.

“The address by itself may not mean anything as multiple entities can share an address in some of these offshore jurisdictions without having any relationship or connection. However, it may be worth examining further in the light of the recent allegations to dispel any doubts,” said J N Gupta, co-founder and managing director of corporate governance advisory Stakeholder Empowerment Services.

First Published: Thu, April 12 2018. 07:05 IST
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