Leaks reveal Kenyan judge a director of multiple offshore companies
Kenyan Deputy Chief Justice (DCJ) Kalpana Rawal was a director and a shareholder of four companies located in a known tax haven, the Daily Nation can reveal.
Documents show that the judge and her husband, Hasmukhrai Rawal, either together or separately, were the directors and shareholders of a total of 11 companies registered in the British Virgin Islands. Three of the companies under the control of Mr Rawal were used to buy and sell property in the UK worth millions of Kenyan shillings.
The records are part of a set of documents provided by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists that detail how prominent public figures from across the world used a Panama-based law firm, Mossack Fonseca, to open and operate companies and accounts in tax havens.
According to the leaked records, Mr Rawal was the sole director and shareholder of Montague Real Estate, which was used in 2004 to buy an apartment in London worth nearly £8 million. The flat was later sold in 2006.
Mr Rawal was also the sole director and shareholder of Arklyn International Limited, which was used to buy an apartment in London for £1.1 million in 2005 that was sold for £1.6 million in 2011. The same company also bought another flat in London for £1.1 million in 2005 and sold it for £1.5 million in 2012. Rawal resigned as a director and shareholder of Arklyn in 2011 and all his shares were transferred to a company called Buchanan Limited.
Yet another company controlled by Mr Rawal, Innovate Global Limited, was used to buy a house in Surrey, in the UK, for £1.9 million, and an apartment in London for £680 000. The London apartment was sold for £820 000 in 2013. The shares at Innovate Global were split between Rawal, two unnamed bearers and Buchanan Limited.
Other companies under the control of Mr Rawal, but for which no financial activity could be detected, include Quintessa Quella Holdings where he was a shareholder alongside Vinayak Kantilal Radia, and Windsor Land Investments Limited where Mr Rawal was the sole shareholder and director. Others include Windsor Real Estate Partners S.A and Actara Investments Limited.
Registration in a Known Tax Haven
Justice Rawal was personally involved in four companies. She was listed as a director of Forrell Real Estate Inc from 2001 to 2007 and Rocklane Properties Ltd from 2001 and 2003, which were notably active after her appointment to the judiciary in 2000. She was also a director and shareholder of Ubique Services Limited in 1994 and a shareholder of Highworth Management Services in 1995.
All four companies were registered in the British Virgin Islands, which is a known tax haven. According to registration documents, the companies were used for a slew of real estate functions, including buying, selling and leasing of property.
Rocklane was opened in 2001, a year after Rawal was sworn in as a high court judge. All 1 000 Rocklane shares were held by an unnamed bearer, suggesting that the company might have wanted to keep the owner of the shares secret.
Rawal and her husband resigned as directors at Rocklane in 2003, and new directors were appointed to replace them.
Neither gave a reason for their resignation.
The same pattern was observed with Forell Real Estate, where both Rawal and her husband were directors from 2001. Mr Rawal, however, held all the shares in the company. They both tendered their resignations as directors in 2007, and were replaced by new directors.
Highworth Management Services, where both were directors and shareholders, also had disgraced businessman Ajay Shah, a former director of Trust Bank, which collapsed in 2001, as a member of the board and a fellow shareholder.
At Ubique Services Limited, the Rawals were directors and shareholders alongside Rajesh Kumar Rawal, whose relationship to the DCJ and her husband is as yet unknown.
Involvement During Public Service
Through her lawyer, Rawal said that the companies have been part of the family’s real estate business since the 1990s, and that her involvement either as a shareholder or a director was above board.
“The real estate business, primarily run by her sons in the UK, has been and remains compliant with British and international law. The use of BVI [British Virgin Islands] companies is a perfectly legal and legitimate corporate practice in the UK,” said the DCJ’s official statement.
The statement added that the “DCJ has never at any one time been a beneficiary of any monies from any of the said companies.”
And although two companies in which she was named as a director were in operation after she was appointed to the judiciary, Rawal said in her statement that she had never participated in the affairs of the companies since joining public service.
This is, however, disputable, since records show that she personally signed correspondence regarding Rocklane Properties Limited in 2003, when she resigned as director. In addition, Rawal is mentioned as being present at a board meeting held about Forrell Real Estate in 2004, where she also confirmed being a director of the company.
In response to questions presented to her by the Daily Nation, the judge declined to mention whether she had declared any of the companies to the Judicial Service Commission during her appointment as a high court judge.