The Hindustan Times Ltd explains details of Bermuda company

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Updated on Nov 17, 2017 08:02 AM IST
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The Indian Express carried a report in the context of the Paradise Papers about (Bermuda), promoted by a subsidiary of The Hindustan Times Ltd, the holding company of HT Media Ltd. The report misrepresented the facts about the nature of the Bermuda company and its transactions. In order to set the record straight and present an accurate account, The Hindustan Times Ltd sent across a detailed note to the Indian Express on 13. 11.2017. Since the Indian Express has chosen to neither acknowledge nor publish the note, is carrying the entire text of that note below:

Subject:Incorrect contents in Article published by The Indian express titled “Paradise Papers: Hindustan Times Group set up firm in Bermuda, Showed Rs. 7 cr loss” on 07.11.2017

Dear Sirs,

1.We wish to point out certain serious misrepresentations, grave inaccuracies and falsehoods that have been published in the Article dated 07.11.2017 titled “Paradise Papers: Hindustan Times Group set up firm in Bermuda, Showed Rs. 7 cr loss” (the “said Article”) in all print and web editions of The Indian Express as set out below.

2.Incorporating a company overseas, including in Bermuda, is perfectly legitimate and permissible in Indian law and as per the regulatory regime, so long as necessary regulatory approvals, clearances are taken and the operation of such company is duly disclosed to the Indian Authorities, which were duly complied with in our case with all requisite permissions from RBI having been obtained. This company was set up in partnership with an American Private Equity fund to pursue internet related opportunities. Most media companies at the time were pursuing such opportunities. The structure was common for companies partnering with Private Equity funds investing out of America. Your said Article in a most misleading manner insinuates otherwise and projects a sinister scenario when there exists none and tarnishes the unblemished image of our Company, a result of hard work and careful adherence and compliance of laws for nearly 100 years.

3.The said Article specifically points a finger at our Chairperson, Ms. Shobhana Bhartia and alludes to her involvement with setting up of (Bermuda) Ltd. Such perception, which the said Article has portrayed and fortified, is totally erroneous and unwarranted.

4.We wish to specifically point out that:

a)HT Ltd. did not, as a matter of fact, have any direct shareholding in (Bermuda) Ltd., since (Bermuda) Ltd. was a step down subsidiary of HT Ltd. and your statements to the contrary are incorrect;

b)You have falsely insinuated that one of our subsidiary HT Media Ltd., has some connection with (Bermuda) Ltd. when HT Media Ltd. has nothing whatsoever to do with the incorporation or business/operation of (Bermuda) Ltd.;

c)You say that HTBC Ltd. has its registered office situate in Mumbai, which is completely wrong as it is a company incorporated in Bermuda and cannot have it’s registered office in Mumbai;

d)The Article falsely points to some non-disclosure on the part of HT Ltd. w.r.t. the business and revenue of when all required details of are disclosed in its Annual Reports.

e)Contrary to what the said Article insinuates, (Bermuda) Ltd. was wound up and once a company comes under the purview of an Official Liquidator, the Directors of the company lose control over the management and affairs of the company, including the drawing of accounts, which are thereafter within the domain of the Official Liquidator. Once the company is wound up there is no requirement of filing of annual returns;

f)Correct information in relation to the subject of the said Article was readily available in the public domain, inter-alia in the very material you claim to have based your article on, apart from records of the Registrar of Companies, including in the response our Company sent to you.

5.The said article should, therefore, be –

a.permanently removed from your website – and all hyperlinks and references to the article from your website and from any caches should be deleted; and should also tender your unconditional apology regretting the publication of the incorrect and false material.

6.Considering that your newspaper claims to be an evangelist for truth and accuracy, we expect a positive response from you. Needless to add that this letter is issued without prejudice to rights and remedies (civil and/or criminal) available to us under applicable laws.

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