Industrialist Prakash Hinduja fined Rs 1,270 crore for tax violations by Geneva court

| | J Gopikrishnan
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Industrialist Prakash Hinduja fined Rs 1,270 crore for tax violations by Geneva court

Sunday, 16 May 2021 | New Delhi | J Gopikrishnan

A court in Geneva has fined Indian industrialist Prakash Hinduja 157 million francs (Rs 1,270 crore) for tax violations.

According to Swiss newspaper Gotham City and Le Temps, the Geneva Court imposed the fine on Hinduja for claiming tax exceptions by showing his Monaco residency, while he was actually living in Geneva.

“The Geneva tax authorities suspect the billionaire of Indian origin Prakash Hinduja of staying in his villa in Cologny (GE) until April 2018, when he had officially settled in Monaco in 2007,” reported Gotham City.

“In July 2018, the Geneva public prosecutor sought to collect information on Prakash Hinduja and members of his family on behalf of the cantonal tax authorities, in the context of criminal proceedings, according to a judgment of the Federal Court rendered on April 21 (5A_1042/2020).

In April 2019, the Federal Tax Administration opened its own investigation into this case, which targets several individuals. The following month, the Geneva tax authorities declared two receiverships, amounting to 154 million francs for cantonal and municipal taxes, and 3 million for federal taxes” reported Le Temps.

Hinduja Group controls Ashok Leyland, IndusInd Bank and Gulf Lubricants. The Indian origin conglomerate having business across the world was started by late PD Hinduja in early 1940s. The Hinduja Group’s companies are controlled by holding companies situated in tax havens like Mauritius and Geneva.

Two months ago, apart from Swiss newspapers, London and Mauritius newspapers reported the charges by Geneva and Mauritius tribunals against Prakash Hinduja’s son Ajay Hinduja.

The reports flagged the illegalities in holding companies in Mauritius which controls the entire firms of Hinduja Group. Apart from the violations in Mauritius, Sunday Telegraph of London reported in a case of alleged forgery against billionaire businessman Ajay Hinduja, which has added to the woes of one of India’s richest families.

According to the story published on Sunday (February 7), Ajay was subject of a criminal order in a Geneva court in December 2019 on a charge of forging a document at a bank. The Swiss prosecutor believed there were grounds to proceed against Ajay Hinduja, who has denied any wrongdoing. The Geneva prosecutor’s office confirmed that he had challenged and the matter is due to be heard in court, but has been delayed due to Covid.

The four Hinduja brothers --- Sirichand P Hinduja, Gopichand Hinduja, Prakash P Hinduja and Ashok P Hinduja -- are for the past two years bickering over transfer of shares to the next generation. It is  mainly because of the e family tussles that  Ashok Hinduja and Prakash Hinduja’s son Ajay are facing legal troubles in Mauritius and Geneva courts.

According to lawyers, Sirichand and Gopichand are unhappy with the handling the affairs of the operation of the companies across the World.

The family disputes started in November 2020, when Ajay stood for re-election as Director in the Annual General Meeting of the Mauritius-registered company IndusInd International Holdings Ltd or IIHL. His uncle, Ashok Hinduja who lives in India chaired the board. Other elder brothers are settled in London and Switzerland.

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