An offshore family trust owned by Rohan Timblo, son of Goa-based miner Radha Timblo; its three underlying companies; and transactions with two Bulgarian citizens, went under the scanner of the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS), according to the Pandora Papers.
Records reviewed by The Indian Express reveal that in 2018, IRAS requested information from Asiaciti Trust Singapore Pte Ltd which provided corporate trustee services to Timblo.
IRAS requested details of Timblo’s Colares Trust in Singapore and its three underlying companies – Calheta Holdings Ltd in Samoa, Cazar Finance SA in the British Virgin Islands and Corylus Assets Inc, based in Panama.
Several emails sent by The Indian Express to the Timblo family and a text message to Radha Timblo did not elicit a response.
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Records show that the IRAS investigation was preceded by two Suspicious Transaction Reports (STRs) from Asiaciti.
The first STR was filed after Timblo in January 2015 sought to add two unrelated persons of Bulgarian descent – Martin Vladimir Dobrev and Tchavdar Tchavdarov Tzenov – as beneficiaries of his family trust, Colares, which was established for the family succession.
This STR also reported a loan transaction of 172,200 euros in favor of Dextera Capital Ltd, a Bulgarian company owned by Dobrev and Tzenov. According to the STR, the loan amount was exactly the amount Calheta Holdings had in its bank account.
Although Asiaciti did not authorize Timblo to add Bulgarian nationals as beneficiaries of the trust, it authorized the loan transaction in November 2015.
However, Asiaciti also filed a DOS with the Singapore Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), according to the files.
Immediately after the loan transaction, Colares Trust and Calheta Holdings were delisted in November 2015 and February 2016 respectively.
“While doing a due diligence before executing the loan transaction for Dextera, the organization (Asiaciti) discovered that the subject (Rohan) was recently involved in a mining scandal involving Timblo Private Limited, a company owned by his mother. Radha Timblo and where the the subject is named as one of the directors with his brother Chetan Timblo, ”said the first STR.
“Chetan Timblo has since been questioned about the Indian Black Money case involving tax evasion and fraud in India. In a government affidavit filed in the black money court case, the subject is also suspected of having an illegal overseas bank account, but no further details are available at this time, ” did he declare.
In October 2014, the Indian government informed the Supreme Court that it had taken legal action against the Timblo family, including Radha Timblo, Chetan Timblo, Rohan and Mallika Timblo for allegedly hiding black money abroad. At that time, Radha Timblo denied having committed any wrongdoing.
The government’s action was based on the findings of an income tax department investigation of Timblo Pvt Ltd and its managing director Radha Timblo which began in 2010.
The tax administration alleged that Radha Timblo declared the existence of two foreign bank accounts at Wing Hang Bank Ltd and Bank of Communication, Hong Kong, during a tax investigation of the mining company in 2010.
Subsequently, the tax department alleged that Timblo Pvt Ltd had under-invoiced iron ore exports to a Japanese company and diverted the proceeds from the additional sale to these two bank accounts.
The tax administration also submitted its findings on Timblo to the Special Investigation Team (SIT) set up to hunt down black money cases under the chairmanship of former Supreme Court Justice MB Shah.
The Pandora Papers show that in June 2016, Asiaciti filed a second DOS, this time on Calheta Holdings. The STR said that following Asiaciti’s first STR, Rohan Timblo in May 2016 visited the Asiaciti office to resolve the outstanding issues.
Timblo, according to STR, requested documents relating to the trust structure put in place with Asiaciti, including bank statements from Colares Trust and Calheta Holdings.
“Rohan refused to pay the wire transfer fee and ended up paying the extra time fee in cash for duplicate returns. Also, he specifically asked me (the Asiaciti agent) not to use the email address he provided earlier and he doesn’t want any email communication at all. Asiaciti’s agent said in the June 2016 STR.
According to records, Colares Trust was established in 2011 as a family trust with Rohan Timblo, his wife Mallika Timblo and their children as the ultimate beneficiaries.
The trust was created by Rohan Timblo to receive profits from mining activity in India.
According to the trust structure, Calheta, one of three companies it controls, held money to “accumulate and grow” Rohan Timblo’s family wealth for his “wife and children”.
Two other companies, Cazar and Corylus, were formed by the trust to invest in “the activity of truck stops in Bulgaria” and “a real estate project and related investments in Bulgaria (construction, rental or sale of holiday homes and d ‘luxury apartments)’ to be managed by a UK estate agent.
According to the financial records of the companies held by Colares Trust, in February 2013, Rohan Timblo in two transactions remitted through the trust 600,000 euros and 60,000 euros to his father-in-law Dilip Mahabal Kulkarni for a private investment and for the acquisition of shares in the Bulgarian company EM Boyana Ltd., respectively.
Incidentally, in November 2014, Timblo’s wife and children were removed as beneficiaries of the Colares trust.
It was a month after the Indian government said it had brought an action against the Timblo family under income tax law for allegedly stashing black money in offshore accounts.