Pandora Papers detained for fraud, Cox and Kings’ Peter Kerkar linked to offshore companies
The now-arrested promoter of bankrupt Cox and Kings Ltd travel company Ajay Ajit Peter Kerkar owns two BVI trusts and is linked to at least half a dozen offshore companies, an investigation into the Pandora Papers files reveals.
Most of these companies were created by Kerkar and his business partner Shyam Maheshwari, non-resident Indian between 2010 and 2016. Maheshwari is a partner of Ares SSG Group, a global alternative investment management company.
Kerkar is charged with money laundering and was arrested by the Directorate of Enforcement (ED) in November 2020. His company, Cox and Kings, came into the limelight after the ED opened an investigation into allegations of bribes taken by Rana Kapoor, former co-founder. by Yes Bank Ltd. Cox and Kings owes Rs 5,500 crore to banks and financial institutions and was one of Yes Bank’s main borrowers.
Documents reviewed by The Indian Express show that BVI’s two vista trusts – The Welcome Trust and The Castle Cove Trust – were both established in March 2010 with Kerkar, his wife Emma Patience Tully and their two daughters as beneficial owners. ultimate and Aleman, Cordero, Galindo & Lee Trust (BVI) Ltd as trustee.
While Welcome Trust controls a company of BVI Coad Investments Ltd, Castle Cove Trust owns shares of Castleman Management Ltd. Castle Cove Trust’s initial settlement body consisted of shares valued at $ 50,000 of Castleman Management, according to its indenture.
Records show that between September 2015 and October 2016, Kerkar, through Castleman Management, became guarantor of a $ 45 million loan from Cayman Islands-based SSG Secured Lending Opportunities to Kubber Investment ( Mauritius) Pvt Ltd, shareholder of Cox and Kings. . Likewise, Coad Investments also became a guarantor of loans of $ 34 million taken out by Kubber Investment with SSG Secured Lending between 2014 and 2016.
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Incidentally, Kubber Investments is being questioned by ED for allegedly siphoning off around $ 15 million from the sale proceeds from Holiday Break Education Limited, a UK subsidiary of Cox and Kings. Holiday Break Education was sold for Rs 4,387 crore in 2018. The ED alleged that Kubber Investments was owned by Kerkar.
Emails and phone calls to Kerkar’s lawyer Akhilesh Dubey did not elicit a response.
Castleman Management is also under investigation after Cox and Kings arrested CFO Anil Khandelwal in a statement to the Mumbai Police Economic Offense Wing (EOW) alleged that the BVI company had “siphoned off” Rs 450 crore from Cox and Kings Asia Pacific Travel.
Records show that Kerkar and his associates have created a number of offshore companies: Shirmont International Ltd; Coad Financial Management Ltd; Castleman Financial Management Ltd; Blue Kite Investments Ltd in BVI; Courbet Holdings Ltd in Cyprus; and SSG Special Opportunity II Ltd in BVI.
While Kerkar is the sole director of Coad Financial and Castleman Financial, Maheshwari is a director of Blue Kite, Courbet and SSG Special Opportunity II. Maheshwari’s wife, Sulata Maheshwari, is the sole director of Shirmont International, a personal business of the Maheshwari. Blue Kite, Courbet and SSG Special Opportunity II are part of Ares SSG.
“All entities that Ares SSG establishes as part of its fund investing activities are intended for specific and legitimate business purposes and are formed on the basis of the advice of third party professional legal and tax advisers in full compliance with the law. A spokesperson for Ares SSG said in response to questions from The Indian Express.