The multi-agency group (MAG) probing the Panama Papers leak will monitor the probe and take “swift action” on the ‘Paradise Papers’ on financial holdings abroad that list a number of Indian entities, the CBDT today said. It said the investigation units of the income tax department across the country have been “alerted to take note of revelations for immediate appropriate action”. The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) said investigation in many cases of offshore entities is already on fast track. “As soon as further information surfaces, swift action as per law will follow,” the CBDT, the policy-making body for the IT department, said in a statement. It said the government has directed that investigation in cases of Paradise Papers will be monitored by a re-constituted MAG, headed by the Chairman CBDT and having representatives from the CBDT, the Enforcement Directorate, the Reserve Bank of India and the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU). The MAG was constituted in April last year to investigate the legality of money stashed in offshore entities by Indians named in the Panama Papers. The panel will first go through the details of income tax returns filed by the 714 Indian individuals and entities reportedly named in the Paradise Papers and subsequently take action, on a case-to-case basis, official sources added. However, the CBDT said it is still to receive full details of the latest disclosures. It said the names of only a few Indians (entities and individuals) have appeared so far in the media.
The Paradise Papers relate to an investigation into offshore and banking assets of individuals and entities carried out by the Indian Express in collaboration with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). Even the ICIJ website (www.icij.org) has not yet released the names and other particulars of all the entities, it said. “The website of ICIJ suggests that information will be released in phases and structured data connected to the Paradise Papers investigation will be released only in the coming weeks on its Offshore Leaks Database,” a CBDT statement said.
A senior official said notices will be issued once complicity of an individual or entity is established in these cases. THe CBDT said revelations made today in the media indicate that out of 180 countries represented in the data of offshore entities held by people of different nationalities, India ranks 19th in terms of number of names. In all, 714 Indian entities and individuals figure in the list. The Paradise Papers include nearly 7 million loan agreements, financial statements, emails, trust deeds and other paperwork over nearly 50 years from inside Appleby, a prestigious offshore law firm with offices in Bermuda and other places.
Indians who figure in Paradise Papers include Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan, defaulter businessman Vijay Mallya, corporate lobbyist Niira Radia, film star Sanjay Dutt’s wife Dilnashin, now known as Manyata, Union minister Jayant Sinha and Rajya Sabha MP RK Sinha, the report in the Indian Express, ICIJ’s media partner in the country, said. The ICIJ worked with 95 media partners globally for the investigation. The leaked documents include files from the smaller, family-owned trust company, Asiaciti (Singapore), and from company registries in 19 secrecy jurisdictions. The mention of names on the list does not mean that such entities have generated tainted money or evaded taxes.