Citizens' Issues
Identity Theft and Its Avatars
Identity theft is a serious issue. But, in India, the rich and the powerful get away with using the identities of their employees (drivers and domestic helpers) as fronts for large business transactions, by naming them as directors in benami companies. Why is India so tolerant about the issue?
 
I dentity theft is a serious issue. But, in India, where the rich and the powerful get away with using the identities of their employees (drivers and domestic helpers) as fronts for large business transactions, by naming them as directors in benami companies, the gravity of the matter does not seem to upset people. 
 
On 17th November, Moneylife’s website reported a filing on the statutory corporate filing database of United Kingdom, companieshouse.gov.uk. It showed that SGFX Financials, a UK-registered entity set up in December 2010, had former Union agriculture minister and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar as a director between 13 December 2010 and 5 January 2011. Following his exit, a breath-taking £70 billion came into the company; the company itself was quickly dissolved in November 2012. A day after our report, The Economic Times reported that Mr Pawar had filed a complaint with the economic offences wing (EOW) of the Mumbai police against two directors of SGFX Financials, Sarvesh Narendra Bharde (it is actually Gade) and Shahnaz Ashraf, for ‘falsely and fraudulently’ submitting Mr Pawar’s name as a director, without his knowledge. Mr Pawar reportedly admitted that all other details about him, in the corporate filings, were accurate. On 22nd November, The Times of India reported that the EOW “may not register an FIR against the suspects (Sarvesh Gade and Shahnaz Ashraf) since they have publicly apologised for technical error that caused the inclusion of Pawar’s name in their company as a director.” As simple as that. 
 
The two had tried to blame the technical error on the UK firm, called Companies Made Simple, which, in turn, denied having filled out the forms. Pune-based RTI activist, Vijay Kumbhar, tweeted a Facebook post of SGFX Financial, which prominently displayed Mr Pawar’s photo and was even ‘liked’ by Mr Gade. How that happened will remain a mystery. 
 
Another case that is almost buried by the ‘tolerance’ debate is the allegation by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, Dr Subramaniam Swamy, that Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had represented himself as a British citizen in UK corporate filings. He revealed documents and corporate filings about a company called Backops Limited for several years. UK’s Companies House records reveal three versions: there are some records relating to Rahul Gandhi’s company, Backops Limited, where he is shown to be a British national; there are some other records of the same company that show him as an Indian national. And there is, apparently, a third record where he is shown as British but a handwritten change has been made—the word ‘British’ has been scratched out and replaced by ‘Indian’. The Congress has, predictably, dismissed Dr Swamy’s allegations, while Mr Gandhi challenged the government to arrest him. After a furore, mainly on social media, the matter seems to have been buried by the media and the political class, although Dr Swamy is unlikely to give up so easily. 
 
This tolerance for shady records, benami dealings and incorrect reporting to statutory databases extends beyond our shores to other powerful Indians too. Consider the explosive story by Nilita Vachani in The Nation and the Caravan magazine about how Anil Kumar, former partner at McKinsey & Company, stole the identity of an illiterate domestic help—Manju Das—to open offshore accounts in her name and collect illicit payments for revealing insider information in the famous case involving Raj Rajaratnam of Galleon Group and Rajat Gupta. Anil Kumar was convicted, but got away with a lighter sentence of two-year probation in 2012, a fine of $25,000 and forfeiture of $2.26 million in shady earnings, in exchange for agreeing to testify against his two friends. The revelations about Manju Das seem to have been quietly dropped as a part of the deal with the United States authorities, for testifying against his close friends Rajat Gupta (former head of Mckinsey) and Raj Rajaratnam leading to their imprisonment. 
 
This extraordinary tolerance for the misuse of identity, probably, explains why politicians across the spectrum (barring a few rare exceptions) have no interest in ensuring that the Unique Identification Number is legislated by parliament, with clear checks & balances put in place after a debate. It also explains why valid concerns about the flawed Aadhaar database do not resonate with ordinary Indians. 
 

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COMMENTS

Mahesh S Bhatt

12 months ago

Legal system prostitutes with Political systems.

Politicians use/abuse/misuse Laws to square the Political equations.

Life Goes On

Truth cannot stand the test of time/money as it loses relevance after a while.

So how it matters

Carry On Move India let Anarchy prevail.

Some Nathuram/Beant Singh/Nalini Singh will rise to give EXTRA Judicial judgements.

Life Goes on

Mahesh S Bhatt

12 months ago

Why does it not happen to common man & only uncommon Gandhi's Pawar etc.

Law is great 13 years Salman freed.No alcohol/nodriving/no murder.

Simple fact is small people get caught in legal web.

Rich break through web by creating moneywebs

Politicians use State Immmunity with impunity & money bags to buy justice.

Time is anyway not a criteria in Indian jurisprudence.

Enjoy the Hypocrisy of largest democrazy.INDIA.Ha Ha Ha

manoharlalsharma

12 months ago

But who will tie bell to cat ?

Meenal Mamdani

12 months ago

Dear Ms. Dalal
I don’t think that I misunderstood your article. It was eyecatching because Mr. Pawar's name was involved.

In this case, Mr. Gade listed Mr. Pawar as a director in his company, apparently without Mr. Pawar’s knowledge. So Mr. Gade stole Mr. Pawar’s identity to attract huge sums of money to his company. The question is how the banks and entity that registers the companies in UK accepted the fraud and moreover, once it was exposed, did not start criminal proceedings against Mr. Gade. This is not a minor error that can be passed off as of no consequence. This suggests that the banks and corporation registration entities in UK must be a party to the fraud.

Mr. Pawar seemed unperturbed perhaps because he knew that the most elementary investigation would prove that the papers substantiating his identity were fraudulent. Indian authorities like EOW have no jurisdiction in UK and unless Mr. Gade is an Indian citizen, cannot haul him up in an Indian court. Also the crime occurred in UK, not India, so UK should pursue this. I don’t think that we can hold Mr. Pawar responsible for this crime unless we can prove that he knew of this fraud and agreed to it.

In USA, identity theft occurs but involving hundreds and at a stretch thousands of dollars, perpetrated by petty criminals and involves ordinary citizens. There has never been one of this magnitude involving billions of dollars and prominent personalities.

I have no doubt that identity theft occurs in India because of inadequate literacy among a large proportion of poor people and the feudal mindset and behavior of the wealthier class. It is all the more reason to build in safeguards like PAN card and Aadhar card to prevent such thefts. I hope that MoneyLife will urge the adoption of both of these safeguards in all financial transactions.

KAVIRAJ B PATIL

12 months ago

With the vast majority of Indians too engrossed in their daily battle of survival and too tired at the end of the day to notice what their netas are upto, it is very convenient for the netas. While not scratching each other's back, they indulge in fairy tales to lull the toiling masses to sleep. It is only mavericks like Mr. Swamy who seem to treat the "Swach Bharath" seriously.

Mahesh S Bhatt

12 months ago

Big Thefts are simple.

Sharad Pawar was Agri Minister & he let the NSEL scam worth 8800 crore happen by simple disconnection of warehouse & broking house separation.

So enjoy.

Mahesh

Meenal Mamdani

12 months ago

This has been an embarrassing episode for MoneyLife as a supposed expose has turned out to be a typing error in the computer. The reporting team should have verified the accuracy of the data before rushing to print the astounding news.
Mr. Subramaniam Swamy too has counted on the sensational aspect of his claim to get wide public exposure before the charges have been investigated.
On the contrary, the case of Anil Kumar's misuse of his maid's name on a bank account appears to have been thoroughly investigated before reporting in the press.

REPLY

Sucheta Dalal

In Reply to Meenal Mamdani 12 months ago

Ms Mamdani

I am surprised. There was no typing error. There was no embarrassment. The problem is in your understanding of the report.
The numbers were 100% accurate as reported to the British website

Shun Facebook to kill loneliness before it eliminates you
If you think that no other age group is more vulnerable to loneliness than the elderly, go check your backyard. The mammoth rise of the internet and emergence of various social media platforms have left many young Indians - some as young as 14 - socially isolated, lonely and, eventually, in the grip of chronic depression that can take their lives.
 
Not just leading to suicidal tendencies, the feeling of being lonely can make you sick, very sick if not addressed clinically and socially well in time.
 
According to Dr. Samir Parikh, director, (mental health and behavioural sciences) at Fortis Healthcare in the capital, loneliness can be a trigger to self-suicidal ideation in young people. It can also affect their overall well-being.
 
"Loneliness can affect you physically and psychologically - draining people and leaving a huge vacuum in their life, thus putting them at suicide risk," Parikh told IANS.
 
Although in some cases, forming communities and groups on social media can be helpful but the social media can never be a substitute for the real human experience, he added.
 
"Total social isolation in young people can lead to depression, increases chances of Alzheimer's later in life and chances of death by suicide or increased physical ailments," Dr. Madhuri Singh, a leading psychiatrist from Nanavati Super Specialty Hospital in Mumbai, said.
 
In the virtual world, such lonely souls will, in fact, drift further away from the real interaction which is a must for the healthy functioning of mind and body, she added.
 
The rise in internet and smartphone addiction among children is fast becoming a worrying trend for Indian parents.
 
"I recently came across 14-year-old Tanay who was admitted to the psychiatric ward at the hospital as he could not switch off his mobile and was addicted to the social media. He was treated for screen de-addiction or else he could have suffered a serious mental disorder," Dr. Sandeep Govil, consultant (mental health and behavioural sciences) at Saroj Super Speciality Hospital in New Delhi, noted.
 
According to a global research, loneliness leads to fight-or-flight stress that can ultimately affect the production of white blood cells.
 
Essentially, lonely people had a less effective immune response and more inflammation than non-lonely people, a team from the University of Chicago and the University of California-Los Angeles found.
 
"The 'danger signals' activated in the brain by loneliness ultimately affect the production of white blood cells. The resulting shift may both propagate loneliness and contribute to its associated health risks," the researchers noted in a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
 
According to Dr. Sameer Malhotra, director (mental health and behavioural sciences) at Max Super Specialty Hospital, loneliness can add to distress, can be associated with self neglect and can trigger a host of psychosomatic problems.
 
"Mind and body are closely intertwined through an array of neurochemicals, hormones and immune system. Stress associated with loneliness can lead to a host of physical problems. Unhealthy diet can also trigger physical problems," Malhotra told IANS.
 
If not tackled, loneliness can kill. "Loneliness can damage your mental and physical health condition. Medical research has proven the fact of association between poor mental condition and the rate of suicides. A disturbed mental condition increases the risk of suicide in such patients," Dr. Govil stressed.
 
Recently, a 20-year-old student, Nitin, came to Dr. Malhotra. He was feeling lonely and homesick and had symptoms of depression and anxiety. Being on the social media did not help but actually aggravated his condition.
 
"He was not eating properly and had lost five kg weight in a span of a month. Complaining of frequent crying spells, anxiety episodes, disturbed sleep and decreased concentration, he had started questioning the very purpose of life," Dr. Malhotra recalled.
 
He was assessed in detail and the family was involved in the treatment process. Bonding with the family - alongside medication support - helped him get out of the state of loneliness within a month.
 
According to Dr. Malhotra, limit your time with smartphones and other gadgets as the vibes shared via direct personal communication have their own merit.
 
Transitionally, being on Facebook may make a difference to your wellbeing.
 
"But the virtual world is also a replica of the world around us. As a result, people at times feel more distressed in the virtual world as they are less in tune with the reality. Thus, we run the same risk of getting hurt or distressed in the virtual world as in the real life," Dr. Govil emphasised.
 
Loneliness takes a toll on your physical health as well where you tend to survive on unhealthy diets. Stress can culminate in the form of binge eating which is dangerous as you tend to eat unhealthy food. It can also lead to a condition of hypertension and lethargy.
 
People who live alone have a lower diversity of food intake and consumption of core food groups like fruits, vegetables and fish.
 
For example, a lack of motivation and enjoyment in cooking and/or eating alone often leads to people preparing simple or ready-made meals lacking key nutrients.
 
The remedy is simple: invest in relationships and stay out of the virtual world as much as possible.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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COMMENTS

Mahesh S Bhatt

12 months ago

Generation brought on 24*7 TV/Internet/Social media is exposed to approx 75000 rapes/130000 murders/240000 frauds & cheating ways/heart breaks.

So what shall we have.

Virtual pleasures real pains no losses no Gains

India fourth biggest exporter of illicit capital: Report
 With an average annual outflow of $51.03 billion, India is the fourth biggest exporter of illicit capital over a decade with such financial flows surging to $1.1 trillion in 2013, according to a new report.
 
China, with $139.23 billion average annually ($1.39 trillion cumulative), was the biggest exporter of illicit financial flows from developing and emerging economies, according to a study released Wednesday by Global Financial Integrity (GFI), a Washington-based research and advisory organization.
 
Russia with $104.98 billion average ($1.05trillion cumulative) and Mexico with $52.84 billion average ($528.44 billion cumulative) came next.
 
India with $51.03 billion average ($510.29 billion cumulative) was fourth followed by Malaysia with $41.85 billion average annually ($418.54 billion cumulative) ranked fifth.
 
Authored by GFI Chief Economist Dev Kar and GFI Junior Economist Joseph Spanjers, the report pegs cumulative illicit outflows from developing economies at $7.8 trillion between 2004 and 2013, the last year for which data are available.
 
Titled "Illicit Financial Flows from Developing Countries: 2004-2013" the study reveals that illicit financial flows first surpassed $1 trillion in 2011, and have grown to $1.1 trillion in 2013.
 
This marks a dramatic increase from 2004, when illicit outflows totaled just $465.3 billion.
 
"This study clearly demonstrates that illicit financial flows are the most damaging economic problem faced by the world's developing and emerging economies," said GFI President Raymond Baker, a longtime authority on financial crime.
 
"This year at the UN, the mantra of 'trillions not billions' was continuously used to indicate the amount of funds needed to reach the Sustainable Development Goals. Significantly curtailing illicit flows is central to that effort."
 
Illicit financial flows averaged a staggering four percent of the developing world's GDP, the study noted.
 
In seven of the 10 years studied, global IFFs outpaced the total value of all foreign aid and foreign direct investment flowing into poor nations.
 
The IFF growth rate from 2004-2013 was 8.6 percent in Asia and 7 percent in Developing Europe as well as in the MENA and Asia-Pacific regions, the report found.
 
The report recommends that world leaders focus on curbing opacity in the global financial system, which facilitates these outflows.
 
Specifically, GFI suggested that governments establish public registries of verified beneficial ownership information on all legal entities, and all banks should know the true beneficial owner(s) of any account opened in their financial institution.
 
Government authorities should adopt and fully implement all of the Financial Action Task Force's (FATF) anti-money laundering recommendations; laws already in place should be strongly enforced.
 
Policymakers should require multinational companies to publicly disclose their revenues, profits, losses, sales, taxes paid, subsidiaries, and staff levels on a country-by-country basis.
 
All countries should actively participate in the worldwide movement towards the automatic exchange of tax information as endorsed by the OECD and the G20, the report suggested.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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COMMENTS

Meenal Mamdani

12 months ago

There is complicity among the wealthy of all countries which allows this to happen.
The outflow of money from these countries is an inflow in another country. That country keeps quiet because it is benefiting from the funds coming in.
No wonder drug money and black money flows so freely around the world and entities like ISIS can receive finance with impunity.
In the meantime, ordinary citizens like us are harassed by banks to repeatedly produce documents for KYC.

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