17 May 2012, Mumbai: Three years ago, Anil Ambani’s bought a yacht named Tian for his wife Tina. Evidently, he was determined to outdo his brother Mukesh Ambani, who had gifted his wife Nita a plush corporate jet. And then, in 2009, it was discovered that Tina’s birthday present was tainted by customs duty evasion. In February 2011, the customs department slapped a show-cause notice on Tina, Anil, Reliance ADAG and two group companies. This 47-page document describes with step-by-set details how a number of Reliance ADA Group companies worked together to pull off this scam: http://tinyurl.com/Customs-Notice-Tian-Yacht-2011
Captains of industry who preach from the pulpit about corporate governance should sit up and take note. The government and shareholders of Reliance ADA group companies should go into high alert — because this is the tip of the iceberg, indicating how things are generally done at R-ADAG. The facts bared by the Customs notice are not merely about duty evasion, they point towards a blatant abuse of corporate governance principles. No less than four Reliance ADAG group companies were used to create a cover-up of Rs 250 - 400 cr – the estimated value of the yacht. R-ADAG claimed that the boat is a foreign flag boat, and hence did not require any import duty to be paid in India. It is an issue of abuse of trust, cheating and fraud.
This elaborate scam was masterminded by Lt. Col. (Retd) Gautam Dutta, Director, Marine Solutions, who is extremely well known in the world of yachting. Sohel Kazani, Partner, Assar Lines, was a stretegic partner. Also neck-deep in it is Hari Nair, Sr VP, Group Finance, R-ADAG — one of those arrested in connection with 2G scam. Hari Nair organized the finance for the purchase. Payments for Tian was made by made by Gateway Net Trading, another R-ADAG associate of Reliance Communications. Both these companies are in non-taxable jurisdictions. Incidentally, Gautam Dutta’s father — Maj Gen (retd) S Dutta – is former Sr VP at R-ADA group.
Tian is a 112 feet yacht (a Custom line 112 Ferretti) imported from Italy by Marine Solutions for Ammolite Holdings, a R-ADA group company. It was declared as a transshipment cargo (TP) – on which duty is not paid. It was declared to be a used and not a new yacht. The yacht came into India on another cargo and according to the yacht’s papers, was headed for Colombo. The yacht was brought to India and its possession was given to R-ADAG by way of charter from a foreign company and was declared as TP cargo.
TiAn, meaning “Peace” in Chinese Mandarin, is a name created using the first two letters of Tina and Anil’s names. This yacht is generally anchored off Oyster rocks near Gateway of India. It has 5 cabins (10 berths) and six bathrooms, and is considered to be the marine equivalent of a Rolls Royce.
THE MODUS OPERANDI DESCRIBED IN THE 47-PAGE SHOW-CAUSE NOTICE served on Anil and Tina Ambani, R-ADA Group, Reliance Transport & Travels Pvt. Ltd., Ammolite Holdings Ltd. (an R-ADA Group company): “To fully appreciate the intricate design adopted to import the luxury yacht without paying any customs duty, it is important to understand role played by each of the crucial players briefly:-
(i) Shri Gautama Dutta, Director, M/s Marine Solutions brokered the sale of the impugned yacht to Shri Anil Ambani from M/s Ferretti. He in association with Shri Sohel Kazani, Partner, M/s Assar Line, designed the modus operandi to bring the yacht as TP Cargo and evade applicable customs duty. He also allowed the name of his company M/s Marine Solutions to be used as importer for the Cradle and Lifting System of the yacht on the basis of fabricated invoice.
(ii) Shri Sohel Kazani, Partner, M/s Assar Lines and Director, CHA M/s Interport Impex, designed the modus operandi which was improvised upon by Shri Gautama Dutta and executed in the import of Yacht Tian. Had this case not been detected they had plan to adopt the same modus operandi for import of other yachts as well.
(iii) Shri Hari Nair, Senior Vice President, Group Finance, M/s Reliance ADAG, has designed the fund flow arrangements for the purchase of yacht Tian. He, with the help of Shri V.R. Mohan and Shri Gautama Dutta of M/s Marine Solutions facilitated import of the yacht Tian into India and executed the plan of duty evasion.
(iv) Shri V.R. Mohan, Director, M/s Ammolite Holdings Ltd. was an accomplice of Shri Hari Nair and allowed acquisition of the yacht in the name of M/s Ammolite and kept signing documents required for its import into India and for execution of the plan of duty evasion on the yacht.
(v) Shri Tushar Motiwala, Director, M/s. Reliance Transport & Travels Pvt. Ltd., was involved in plan of camouflaging the import of the yacht as if it was brought under Charter Hire for temporary period. He also used and dealt with the smuggled yacht at Goa for the new year celebration along with other members of Ambani family.
(vi) Mrs. Tina Ambani and Shri Anil Ambani purchased this yacht for their personal use and with the assistance of Shri Hari Nair, Vice President of M/s Reliance ADAG, routed the money for the purchase and effected the import of the yacht adopting the aforesaid modus operandi with the help of Shri Gautama Dutta and Shri Sohel Kazani in order to evade applicable customs duty and were the main beneficiary of the design.”
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