Six years ago, around the time when desperate buyers took the courts against Unitech group developer Sanjay Chandra, his wife Preeti Chandra set up an offshore family trust structure and changed her nationality, records in the Pandora papers studied by The Indian Express spectacle.
Records from business service provider Trident Trust show that Unitech Group defaulted as early as 2009 on servicing a $ 210 million loan from Credit Suisse for investing in real estate projects in India.
Last Monday, Ramesh Chandra, father of Preeti Chandra and Sanjay Chandra, were arrested by the Enforcement Department, which is investigating the Unitech money laundering case. In March, the ED prevented her from boarding a flight to Delhi. The agency claimed it was “involved in the laundering and layering of funds deposited by home buyers.”
Earlier this week, the Supreme Court authorized a “full-fledged criminal investigation” into allegations of collusion by some Tihar prison officials with Sanjay Chandra and his brother Ajay Chandra while in prison. In August, the two were ordered to be separated and transferred to prisons in Mumbai.
Between her husband’s arrests in 2011 in the 2G spectrum scam and in 2017 for allegedly cheating on homebuyers, fashion designer Preeti Chandra, still an Indian citizen, formed two companies and a family trust in the Virgin Islands. British.
Formed in March 2015, Trikar International Inc (BVI), was to hold the assets of the family trust, which was being set up with Preeti as protector. Bellmora Ltd (BVI) was incorporated as a “designated beneficiary of the Chandra Family Trust” in May 2015 to hold investments in the United Arab Emirates and India, as well as a bank account at Emirates NBD, Dubai.
The Chandra Family Trust held the 50,000 shares of Trikar International, which was funded by Trikar Advisors DMCC (Dubai); Trikar General Trading FZE (Sharjah); and “fashion design companies”.
🗞️ Read the best investigative journalism in India. Subscribe to the Indian Express e-Paper here.
In September 2015, Preeti signed a solvency statement promising that “no event has occurred which I have reason to believe will result in a claim against me by a third party” and that none of his assets “do not come from” money laundering.
In April 2016, Preeti obtained his passport from the Commonwealth of Dominica, which does not have an extradition treaty with India.
And a month later, she transferred all the shares of Trikar General Trading FZE (Sharjah) from Trikar International for 150,000 dirhams.
At the end of 2016, she decided to dissolve the family trust and Trikar International. In a self-certification in April 2017, Preeti declared herself a tax resident of the United Arab Emirates and Dominica.
Preeti Chandra and a Dubai-based Indian accountant, who served as director of Trikar International (BVI), did not respond to questions from The Indian Express.
The records of the Pandora Papers also show how Credit Suisse sounded the alarm about two “entities related to the Unitech group” in Cyprus even as the Unitech group suffered market turmoil.
Between January and July 2008, Credit Suisse (Singapore) lent 210 million dollars (then approximately Rs 850 crore) to the two Cypriot companies to invest in land and real estate projects such as hotels and SEZs in India.
The loans were guaranteed by Unitech Group shares at 325 percent of the value. In addition, shares of Cypriot entities – Dareno Holdings Ltd and Rockslide Investments Ltd – have been pledged, along with shares in underlying Indian companies.
In June 2008, Dareno Holdings, which had borrowed $ 165 million from Credit Suisse, made investments worth $ 116 million in 49% joint ventures with Vectex Holdings Ltd (Cyprus, $ 25 million ) and Crowbel Holdings Ltd (Cyprus, $ 40 million); and in 100% of the subsidiaries Ranchero Services Ltd (Cyprus, $ 12 million), Hedisa Holdings Ltd (Cyprus, $ 18 million), Albium Holdings Ltd (Cyprus, $ 15 million) and Legal Value Technology Services Pvt Ltd (India , $ 6 million).
That same year, in the midst of a severe credit crunch in the market, Unitech stock collapsed from Rs 500 to less than Rs 80. And the company sought time and restructuring, promising additional shares and promising to “slowly repay” the outstanding amount.
During this period, a UK executive from Trident Trust Company, which managed several offshore entities for the Chandra, suggested in an internal email that Cypriot company finances worried Credit Suisse, with auditors noting their inability to pronounce on the value of projects beyond Cost “.
The loan was anyway “based on expected long-term value when the hotel was developed and sold, not today’s value” and “as far as the ‘crisis’ is concerned, Credit Suisse does not think today at CYA (cover your a **), “the Trident executive wrote.
In May 2009, Dareno Holdings and Rockslide Investments defaulted on their debt and Credit Suisse retained their shares until October 2009.
Records also show that in October 2007, Credit Suisse offered Sanjay Chandra a $ 40 million facility to purchase a used Bombardier Global Express aircraft. But they don’t show whether the loan materialized.
In an email, a spokesperson for Credit Suisse said: “Credit Suisse does not comment on potential or existing customer relationships. Credit Suisse conducts its banking activities in compliance with all laws, rules and regulations applicable in the markets in which it operates.