- Dattani Chartered Accountants, situated in College Road, Harrow, were the most recent auditors for Nirav Modi Limited
- Firm admitted to auditing the company, but denied having any connection with Nirav Modi
- Its name appeared in Panama leaks by mistake, a firm official claimed
LONDON: A tiny accountancy firm situated in a nondescript office block in Harrow, linked to companies named in the Panama papers, audited the finances for diamond jeweller Nirav Modi’s UK businesses, documents accessed by TOI showed.
Nirav Modi Limited’s last set of accounts dating up to March 31, 2017 shows that the company was insolvent, possessed no realisable assets and owed millions of pounds.
Dattani Chartered Accountants, situated in College Road, Harrow, were the most recent auditors for Nirav Modi Limited, a subsidiary of the company of the same name registered in Hong Kong which runs the fugitive billionaire’s jewellery and watch retail showrooms. It is not registered in India.
Nitin Dattani, the owner and founder of the firm, told TOI he had audited the accounts but that he no longer acted for Nirav Modi Limited. “We have nothing to do with Nirav Modi. That company is a separate legal entity to Nirav Modi. We were the auditors of a company called Nirav Modi Limited, that is completely independent of Nirav Modi. We took instructions from the directors of Nirav Modi Limited and they were not Nirav Modi and the ownership of Nirav Modi Limited is not Nirav Modi either. I have no knowledge of Nirav Modi,” he said.
Although he admitted his accountancy practice had been named in the Panama Papers leaks, he claimed it was a mistake.
“This link between us and the Panama Papers is a mistake. We have not acted as an intermediary for any company mentioned in the Panama Papers. We may have done their tax returns but we were not involved in establishing them. I have written to the concerned people to complain,” he stated.
The balance sheet up to March 31, 2017, for the UK company which describes itself as the “retail sale of watches and jewellery in specialised stores” shows it was owed £2,043,612 (Rs 18 crore) by debtors and it owed creditors £8,717 074 (Rs 78 crore.). The balance sheet also shows that the UK company, which started in 2014 with £3 million (Rs 26 crore) in shares, less than three years later, had lost all his capital.
“If you were running a retail diamond jewellery business you would not expect to have debtors of £2 million – that means you have sold stuff that has not been paid for. That suggests to me that is money he lent to another company. It is also a huge amount of money – nearly £9 million that his business owes. That could be diamonds he had bought but not paid for but this is highly unusual amount for a diamond jewellery business. The balance sheet shows he was completely bust. To me it does not look like a genuine retail operation, which makes me think he was using this money for something else, possibly money laundering,” a UK company director told TOI.
Dattani Chartered Accountants was the registered office of Nirav Modi Limited in the UK until March 29, 2018 when the registered office switched to that of his jewellery shop in Old Bond Street in Mayfair, one of his seven worldwide stores.
According to the offshore leaks database managed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Dattani Chartered Accountants is the intermediary for 53 entities that have been exposed in the Panama Papers.
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