'Mistys' of Walkeshwar and the curious case of Ischian International

The largest leak comes from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, whose inner workings were exposed in the Panama Papers investigation, published in April 2016.
An offshore company named in the Panama Papers exposé has close links with some prominent people in South Mumbai’s Walkeshwar.

Ischian International is a company registered in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) in 2011 and was found in the records of Panamanian agent Mossack Fonseca. The company, incorporated in August 2011, is managed by an intermediary called North Atlantic Trust Company. It is said to have business interests in BVI, Gibraltar and Italy. 

The company figures in the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) database, based on the Panama Papers. The database contains information on almost 500,000 offshore entities that are part of the Panama Papers, the Offshore Leaks and the Bahamas Leaks investigations. The data covers nearly 40 years, from 1977 through to early 2016, and links to people and companies in about 200 countries and territories.

According to the database, Ischian had five shareholders. While North Atlantic Services, an offshore manager, was its first shareholder, Dubai-based Laila Jehangir became a shareholder in December 2011. She is the daughter of 87-year old Pallonji Shapoorji Mistry, chairman emeritus of Shapoorji, Pallonji & Co. 

A few months later, in September 2012, two individuals, whose given address was 103, Walkeshwar Road, Mumbai, became shareholders of Ischian, the Panama Papers showed. Sterling Bay at 103, Walkeshwar Road, is the residence of the Mistry family. 

However, the shareholders of Ischian spelt their last name differently. Though their first names were the same as the senior Mistry and his wife, there was a small difference in the spelling of the surname. The shareholders’ names as in the database were Pallonji Shapoorji ‘Misty’ and Patsy ‘Misty’.  

In response to an e-mail seeking comments, an SP group spokesperson said:  ‘We wish to clarify that neither Mr Pallonji Shapoorji Mistry nor Mrs Patsy Pallonji Mistry have made any investments in any company by name Ischian Internatinal (sic) nor do they have any financial or other interest in the said company.”

The statement added: “We would also like to inform that Mrs Laila Jehangir (daughter of Mr Pallonji Shapoorji Mistry) has been a non-resident for around 35 years and she is also not a citizen of India.”

Ischian’s fifth shareholder was an entity called ‘North Atlantic Trust Company Limited & Olivier Dunant As Co-Trustees Of The Pink Petal Properties Trust’. This shareholder joined the company in June 2013. 

To be sure, there are legitimate uses for offshore companies and trusts. “We do not intend to suggest or imply that any persons, companies or other entities included in the ICIJ Offshore Leaks Database have broken the law or otherwise acted improperly. Many people and entities have the same or similar names. We suggest you confirm the identities of any individuals or entities located in the database based on addresses or other identifiable information,” ICIJ says in a disclaimer on its database. 

ICIJ obtained the data through three massive leaks. The largest one comes from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, whose inner workings were exposed in the Panama Papers investigation published in April 2016, in conjunction with Süddetsche Zeitung and a little more than 100 other media partners. Around a third of the offshore entities were incorporated through Portcullis Trustnet (now Portcullis) and Commonwealth Trust Limited, two offshore service providers exposed as part of ICIJ’s 2013 Offshore Leaks exposé. 

This was the first information added to this database when it was released in June 2013, which was then produced in conjunction with Costa Rican newspaper La Nación. ICIJ added a third instalment of information on September 21, 2016, as part of the Bahamas Leaks investigation, based on a trove of data from the official corporate registry of the Bahamas.

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