Vanuatu, a tax haven, is a country in the south Pacific Ocean is neighboured by Fiji, the Solomon Islands, and New Guinea.

news Crime Thursday, January 23, 2020 - 12:23

Is rape-accused godman Nithyananda, who is currently on the run from Indian authorities, running his business from a bank account in the Pacific island country of Vanuatu? An email sent by a confidante of Nithyananda to a person who sought details regarding payment for a puja asks disciples to deposit money in a bank account based out of the Republic of Vanuatu.

It is pertinent to note that the island has a global reputation for being a tax haven with no corporate or personal taxes. The country in the south Pacific Ocean is neighboured by Fiji, the Solomon Islands, and New Guinea. It also has banking secrecy laws, providing confidentiality to clients which makes it more attractive as a tax haven. 

The mail provides an account number for 'Kailaasa Limited' in the Port Vila branch of the National Bank of Vanuatu, the largest bank in the country. Port Vila is the capital of Vanuatu. Significantly, however, the remitting address is listed as 'Kailaasa Limited', about two minutes away from the National Bank of Vanuatu on Kumul Highway.

Calling the rape-accused the most persecuted guru of the 21st century, the message offers a 'Dial The Avatar' call for donations above 1000 dollars. “BUT ANYONE CAN DONATE ANY AMOUNT as guru Dakshina. Names will be chanted in sankalpa mantra on the 1st January 2020,” reads the email.

The self-styled godman has been absconding since 2019 following charges of rape against him and allegations of child abuse against his ashram. The latest development also raises the question as to whether Nithyananda has fled to Vanuatu or simply operates his account from the island. Further links to forms to be filled up, in English and Mandarin, enable devotees to update their payment details on the Nithyananda.org website.

Even as speculation has been mounting regarding the whereabouts of the godman, the Union Home Ministry recently asked the Karnataka government to consider steps to secure a Red Corner Notice against him. This month, a blue corner notice was issued by Interpol based on Gujarat police's request.

South American country Ecuador recently denied having given asylum to Nithyananda and suggested that he may have fled to Haiti. 

The godman, however, continues to make regular appearances in videos on his social media accounts. Recently, his purported 'nation' of 'Kailaasa' created a furore when the ashram invited applications for the setting up of a country by 'dispossessed Hindus from around the world who lost the right to practice Hinduism authentically in their own countries'.