Paradise Papers: The Investigation unit of the Income Tax Department, a month after the publication of the Paradise Papers has began sending out summons and questionnaires to the people whose names appeared in the leak. Top Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) officials while talking about the global media offshore leak said that the summons have been issued under Section 131 of the Income Tax Act which ensures the appearance of persons called to give evidence, according to Indian Express. The official further stated that the first set of summons with specific questions for each were sent in end-November, less than a month after the publication of the Paradise Papers on November 5, 2017.
18 months after the publication of the Panama papers, the Paradise Papers disclosed a cache of 13.4 million documents. Both Panama and Paradise Paper data were obtained by Suddeutsche Zeitung, a German newspaper which were later investigated by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) working in partnership with 96 news organisations in the world.
In terms of the names that appeared in the data, India stands at the 19th position among a total of 180 countries represented in the papers. According to the figures released by ICJ, names of a total of 714 Indians were named in the data. After the release of the Paradise Papers data, the setting up of a Multi-Agency Group (MAG) was announced by the Government. The MAG has membership from the Reserve Bank of India, the Financial Intelligence Unit, besides the CBDT and the Enforcement Directorate and has already held its first round of meetings. At the first meeting, instructions were issued for a list of the first batch of Indians named to be prepared who could be issued summons and called for submitting evidence.
CBDT officials were quoted saying that as a result, the first batch of Section 131 summons have been issued to 23 “groups” named in the Paradise Papers who also figure in the structured data made public by the ICIJ last month.