Shrien Dewani booked his lavish wedding to his murdered wife Anni as a three-day convention at a five-star Indian hotel through his family company PSP Healthcare, the Mail & Guardian was told this week. A staff member at the luxury Rena-issance Hotel and Convention Centre in Mumbai confirmed a discount was given on the "convention" in October because of the good business it received from PSP Healthcare.
The father of the bride, Vinod Hindocha, told the M&G that he paid "two-thirds" of the wedding costs. "I was happy to pay my share, which I handed to Shrien," Hindocha said.
"According to Hindu tradition, the reception is paid by the groom and the other two days are on me. Shrien handled the negotiations and told me what my share was."The British press has estimated that the wedding, attended by more than 300 guests, cost £200 000.Ernest Lai King, the head of Deneys Reitz Tax, said that if the expense was accounted for in PSP, its description as a "convention" cost would be inaccurate, and British tax authorities could take a dim view of it if PSP tried to claim the expense -- unless it was treated as a fringe benefit or remuneration to PSP director Shrien Dewani.
"Of course, that remuneration would then be fully taxable in Shri-en's hands.
The two-thirds subsidy [by Hindocha] could be expected to be accounted for in PSP if the expense was put through, in which case only the net one-third of the remuneration cost could be claimed by PSP," said Lai King, who is a leading tax specialist in South Africa.
He said that if it was customary and obligatory, Hindocha's subsidy should not be regarded as a donation.Lai King said that a disclosure in the company's books of the wedding as a "convention" cost might also be a corporate governance issue of interest to PSP's shareholders.
Shrien Dewani, his brother Preyen and Wayne Shermon are the directors of PSP, which owns nine nursing homes and old-age care villages in the United Kingdom. PSP is reported to be in financial trouble, but the Dewani family has denied this.
Last weekend the Dewani family released a videotape of the couple dancing at their wedding in a bid to counter claims that he is a suspect in her murder. The footage shows the couple singing to their chosen Hindu song, Pehla Nasha (First Love).
The traditional wedding was not formally registered and a formal marriage ceremony is said to have been planned in the United Kingdom next year.
At the time of going to press, the M&G was still awaiting comment from the London public relations firm, Max Clifford, which Dewani has hired to deal with media queries.