Mumbai: Actor Amitabh Bachchan has spoken at length about his name featuring in the Panama papers and Bofors scandal, explaining that he has always cooperated with the “system” but wishes to be left alone at this stage of his life.
Mr Bachchan wrote his anguished post on his blog yesterday and said, “Tomorrow there could be more and the process of cooperation shall continue…”
His outpouring came hours before the Indian Express newspaper reported that the actor is one of the more than 700 Indian individuals and entities figuring in the Paradise Papers, an investigation into offshore and banking assets carried out by the newspaper with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
It is not clear if the actor knew about the Paradise Papers beforehand or that his name was going to figure in the list.
The actor’s post began as a response to a BMC notice sent to him for alleged “illegal construction” on his property and went on to discuss his experiences after he was named in the Panama Papers, another ICIJ investigation, and the Bofors gun pay-off scandal. It did not mention the Paradise Papers.
“At this age and time of my life, I seek peace and freedom from prominence… To be left to lead the last few years of my life with and within myself…,” Mr Bachchan posted on his blog on Sunday.
The 75-year-old actor said he is yet to receive the notice from BMC authorities but, trusting the media reports, his lawyer has already given a statement on the matter.
“In recent months I find my name appear again in the leaks of Panama, as produced by the Indian Express… the paper has asked for reactions, for responses, for justification or not, for replies to their investigative queries.”
The actor said two “instant replies” were given out by him of “denial and misuse of name” but the questions continued.
“Immediately after this, the system took over and since its revelation in the Express, has summoned me… at least 6 summons have been served to us and continue to come…
Each one of them, he said, was “diligently, dutifully and duly replied to”.
Personal appearances were ordered and he complied — at different agency offices, both in Mumbai and in Delhi, both from Tax and Enforcement Departments and of their respective Intelligence Wings.
The actor said some queries take time as the matter is more than 25 years old.
“It takes a while to dig out old files and to compile all that they want… the fullest cooperation has been extended at all hours as dutiful citizens… and even after, if there is any more query that needs to be addressed, we shall comply… It is the norm…,” he said.
Mr Bachchan said he will continue to cooperate if there is any fresh issue as he believes in abiding by the law of the land.
The actor also spoke about allegations against his family and him in the Bofors scandal.
For years, he and his family were “grilled, declared traitors, abused and humiliated by the hour”. When it became unbearable, they moved court in the United Kingdom.
“…we moved against a UK paper and won…,” he said, adding that while he suffered, those who accused him never faced anything.
The actor said it took 25 years for him to know that his name was planted.
Many in the media, he said, asked whether he would seek retribution after his name was cleared or seek information on who had planted his name.
Will retribution take away the “years of suffering and mental torture” that he and his family went through, Mr Bachchan asked in return and said he had told the media that the matter was over for him.