New Delhi: An audit firm in Harrow, London, with alleged links to companies named in the Panama Papers leak, has audited the most recent accounts of Nirav Modi Limited – a subsidiary of the Hong Kong-based firm of the same name, owned by the fugitive Indian businessman, The Times of India reported.
As per documents accessed by The Times of India, Dattani Chartered Accountants audited the last set of accounts dating up to March 31, 2017 of Nirav Modi Limited. The documents showed that the company was insolvent, possessed no realisable assets and owed millions of pounds.
The owner of Dattani Chartered Accountants, Nitin Dattani told TOI that he had audited the accounts of Nirav Modi Limited but he no longer acted for the firm. “We have nothing to do with Nirav Modi. That company is a separate legal entity to Nirav Modi. We were the auditors of a company called Nirav Modi Limited, that is completely independent of Nirav Modi. We took instructions from the directors of Nirav Modi Limited and they were not Nirav Modi and the ownership of Nirav Modi Limited is not Nirav Modi either. I have no knowledge of Nirav Modi,” The TOI report quoted Nitin Dattani as saying.
The TOI report further said that Dattani admitted his accountancy practice had been named in the Panama Papers leaks, but he claimed it was a mistake. “This link between us and the Panama Papers is a mistake. We have not acted as an intermediary for any company mentioned in the Panama Papers. We may have done their tax returns but we were not involved in establishing them. I have written to the concerned people to complain,” TOI quoted him as saying.
According to the TOI report, the balance sheet up to March 31, 2017, for the UK company which describes itself as the “retail sale of watches and jewellery in specialised stores” shows it was owed £2,043,612 (Rs 18 crore) by debtors and it owed creditors £8,717 074 (Rs 78 crore.). The balance sheet also shows that the UK company, which started in 2014 with £3 million (Rs 26 crore) in shares, less than three years later, had lost all his capital.
“If you were running a retail diamond jewellery business you would not expect to have debtors of £2 million – that means you have sold stuff that has not been paid for. That suggests to me that is money he lent to another company. It is also a huge amount of money – nearly £9 million that his business owes. That could be diamonds he had bought but not paid for but this is highly unusual amount for a diamond jewellery business. The balance sheet shows he was completely bust. To me it does not look like a genuine retail operation, which makes me think he was using this money for something else, possibly money laundering,” the TOI report quoted a UK company director as saying.
According to the offshore leaks database managed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Dattani Chartered Accountants is the intermediary for 53 entities that have been exposed in the Panama Papers, the TOI report said.
Nirav Modi is being hunted in India for an alleged money laundering case linked to over $2 billion. According to a PTI report, he was living in a flat just above his jewellery store in the posh Mayfair area of London while investigative agencies in India were haunting for him.
The 47-year-old diamantaire was able to travel in and out of Britain at least four times since his passport was cancelled by the Indian authorities in February.