Bhubaneswar: A day after the Delhi-based NGO PATH alleged that the BJP national vice-president Baijayant Panda and his wife Jagi Mangat Panda have been evading Income Tax through two shell companies located in Bahamas island, the close nexus of the couple with the Manjula Devi Trust has also come to the fore.
Manjula Pooja Shroff, the owner of the Manjula Devi Trust, is also MD and CEO of Kalorex Group and director of the Kalorex Holding Pvt Ltd. Apart from the two companies — Panda Investment Pvt Ltd and Metro Sky Light Pvt Ltd— owned by the Panda couple, she is also the director of 24 private companies including the Kishangarh Environmental Development Action Pvt Ltd.
A descendant of a royal family of Kalahandi district, Manjula was earlier working as an assistant to Baijayant in his company Indian Metals & Ferro Alloys (IMFA) Ltd.
According to the records of the Bahamas registrar of companies, Finley Corporation Ltd, Messina Corporation Ltd and Pikika Ltd were incorporated in the Caribbean tax haven in June 1993, January 1995 and March 2003 respectively by agent Corporate Services International Ltd at the same address in Nassau and Bahamas with proxy office bearers.
Records show that Manjula held the power of attorney for Finley and Messina since July 1994 and January 1995, respectively.
She was also a director along with Baijayant Panda and Jagi Mangat Panda of Ortel Communication Limited (ORTEL), a regional cable and broadband services provider, from 1998 till 2013, which is currently under the corporate insolvency resolution process.
Between 1995 and 2007, the three aforesaid companies in the Bahamas invested Rs 17.72 crore in ORTEL through their India subsidiaries MS Telecom Ltd and Calorex Holdings Private Ltd not only in equity but also in preference shares and by extending loans.
The Panda family picked up the ORTEL equity shares acquired for Rs 9.46 crore by the three Bahamas entities and their two Indian subsidiaries through the family-owned Panda Investments Private Limited and Metro Skynet Limited at almost one-sixth the cost of acquisition for Rs 1.68 crore in cash.
Besides, all preference shares held by Finley were allotted in December 2010 to OTV where Manjula and Jagi Mangat are directors.
A close associate of Swamy Nityanand, who has left India after charged with sexual abuse, Manjula is now in charge of the management of the DPS East School on behalf of the Nityanand Ashram.
A petition was filed in the Gujarat High Court in 2010 against Manjula for obtaining the affiliation from the CBSE for the DPS East School by forging the documents. Later, the court in 2020 granted her interim bail with a condition that the police can take her on remand with the permission of the lower court.