Mah’s Sangli royals under scanner for Swiss accounts
   Date :25-Nov-2019

INDIA’S probe into Swiss bank accounts held by its citizens has taken a ‘royal’ turn with the Indian authorities approaching Switzerland’s tax department for details about two members of the ruling family of the erstwhile princely State of Sangli, now in Maharashtra. Following India’s request for “administrative assistance” in this matter, the Federal Tax Administration of Switzerland has issued a public notice asking the royal couple — Vijaysingh Madhavrao Patwardhan and Rohini Vijaysingh Patwardhan — to appoint their nominees to deal with this matter and file their objections, if any, against sharing of information. Interestingly, the Patwardhans are parents of yesteryear Bollywood actress Bhagyashree.
Typically, this is the first step towards sharing of information by Swiss authorities with the requesting jurisdiction under Switzerland’s regulations about sharing of financial information in tax matters. In two separate but identical notices dated November 19 and published in Switzerland’s latest federal gazette in Berne, the Patwardhans have been asked to appoint their nominees within 10 days. The notices did not disclose any further details, besides their names and dates of birth (August 24, 1942 for Vijaysingh Patwardhan and October 27, 1950 for his wife Rohini).
Repeated attempts to contact the family did not elicit any response, while queries sent to the registered e-mail ID of a company where the two Patwardhans are listed as Directors also remained unanswered. The company, Mangalmurti Investment and Exports Private Limited, is registered with Mumbai Registrar of Companies (RoC), with ‘Sangli Villa’ in Mumbai as its registered address. Vijaysingh and Rohini Patwardhan are listed as the only two Directors of the company, while the RoC records show its status as ‘active’, the last AGM date as September 30, 2019 and the date of last balance sheet as March 31, 2019. The company, which has an authorised capital of Rs 15 lakh, was incorporated on April 25, 1979, which is also the date since when Patwardhans have been its directors.
According to various accounts, Vijaysingh Patwardhan became the last king of Sangli after death of his grandfather in 1965, but he had developed keen interest in business early in his age and also dabbled in film music composition for some time. He is credited with setting up educational, medical and other facilities for people of Sangli over the years.
One of his daughters, Bhagyashree, became an overnight star after her debut lead role in superhit Hindi movie ‘Maine Pyar Kiya’ in 1989. While an automatic exchange of information on financial matters has already come into force between India and Switzerland and the first such exchange took place in September this year, the Swiss authorities have been issuing such notices regularly to Indian residents having accounts in Switzerland-based banks on receipt of requests accompanied with prima facie evidence of financial wrongdoings, including stashing of suspected illicit funds.