Months after the ‘Panama Papers’ leaks contain an unprecedented amount of information, including more than 11 million documents covering 2,10,000 companies in 21 offshore jurisdictions, 415 Indians are under scrutiny as part of the probe. Notably, the probe into alleged tax violations by Indians named in the global expose has become the largest offshore inquiry initiated in the country. So far, 415 Indians are under scrutiny as part of the Panama Papers probe. The government has already sent 198 references to 13 jurisdictions which house offshore entities owned by Indians named in the Panama Papers. These include the British Virgin Islands (BVI), Bahamas, Luxembourg, Jersey, Seychelles, Switzerland and Cyprus — it has been done under provisions of tax treaties signed with these countries, the Indian Express report said. The number of references sent via the Foreign Tax and Tax Research (FTTR) division of the Ministry of Finance stood at 91 in July and the number of Indians under scrutiny then was 297. The largest number of references have been sent by Income Tax (Investigation) units in New Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad.
The Special Taskforce, constituted by the government immediately after publication of the Panama Papers in April, is learnt to have informed the Special Investigation Team (SIT) on black money that the FTTR references sent to the BVI for details of offshore entities of Indians set up by Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca is the highest by any country — almost half the 210,000 offshore entities listed in the Panama Papers data were incorporated in the BVI, the report said.
More than 11 million documents from the secret files of Mossack Fonseca, a law firm headquartered in tax haven Panama, known for its factory-like production of offshore companies for its worldwide clientele of the well-heeled. These records reveal a list of individuals who have paid the firm — and bought the benefits of the secretive, lax regulatory system in which it operates — to set up offshore entities in tax havens around the world. And Mossack Fonseca’s eagerness to meet their demands, each one for a fee, that helps mask real ownership but still show compliance.
The Panama Papers was the largest collaborative investigative project jointly published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and Suddeutsche Zeitung and over 100 media organisations.