The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) is a worldwide network of journalists who are into investigative reporting. This network boasts of 190 members from 65 Countries who collaborate while doing in depth stories. Their most famous works include the Swiss Leaks and more recently the #PanamaPapers leaks. From India, The Indian Express is the only Member of ICIJ as on today
A designated team of journalists was responsible for studying the data received from ICIJ for 8 long months, before the worldwide publication of the news on April 15 2016. Based on documents accessed through ICIJ, they wrote an extensive series on the Panama Papers Leaks. Their articles covered vast offshore companies linked to IPL franchisees, industrialists and bollywood stars. These articles were based on 11 Million files leaked from a data base of a law firm named Mossack Fonseca.
The details mentioned in these articles are of extremely confidential nature. Shocked at the nature and volume of these cases, the Supreme Court decided to hear a plea for a CBI Probe into these revelations. Further, these revelations also led to Arun Jaitley, Finance Minister announcing issuance of tax notices to all those named in those papers.
Cut to the other big scam narrative in India: The AgustaWestland Scam. Allegations and counter allegations were being hurled day in and day out on this topic. What stood out in all this was the fact that the prime accused had allegedly routed the kickbacks through a web of Companies which was highlighted in this article. #AgustaScam had all the ingredients against which the ICIJ members are supposedly fighting, namely
- Cross-border crime that is in between Italy, UK and India.
- Corruption: involving kickbacks
- Accountability of power: allegedly the bribes were paid to high ranking defense officials and powerful politicians.
One common link eventually did emerge from Panama Leaks and AgustaWestland case: Gautam Khaitan. Khaitan has been linked to middlemen in the Agusta Deal and his name pops up in Panama Leaks too.
In an article which was published by the Indian Express a good two weeks after the first Panama Leaks piece, it was revealed that Khaitan, provided a reference letter in favour of Navin Mehra, who was a director in two offshore entities registered by Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. But the piece stops here and doesn’t provide any more information.
The above in itself maybe a small or unimportant piece of information, and it appears Indian Express missed reporting is this: an entity named ‘Windsor Group Holdings Limited’ allegedly owned by Gautam Khaitan.
On 9th May the ICIJ team made public names of the 2,14,000 entities from the Panama leaks, and the details of this Windsor Group Holdings Limited was mentioned in the same.
The question now arises, how did the crack team of Indian Express miss this offshore company opened by an accused in the AgustaWestland scam. One would expect this information to be released in the first few tranches of the Panama Leak publications, but somehow the team at Indian Express never saw the linkage between Windsor Holding and Khaitan.
Before this, it was reported that Windsor was registered in Singapore. However Panama Papers revealed that there may be yet another Windsor Group Holdings Ltd, which is registered in British Virgin Islands and in which Gautam Khaitan is allegedly a Director and a Shareholder.
At this juncture one hopes that the Enforcement Directorate has been either tipped off by the Indian Express, which was studying the Panama documents for 8 months, or has itself realized that Khaitan may as well have 2 companies by the name Windsor, or worse yet, the Singapore entity many not even exist.