Global economic body OECD has called a special session of countries, including India, on April 13 here to firm up cooperation between nations in the wake of the ‘Panama Papers’ disclosures in which about 500 Indians have figured for holding offshore assets in the tax haven nation.
India adheres to a number of OECD norms for strengthening overseas tax cooperation and exchange of information and at the first meeting of a specially constituted Multi-Agency Group (MAG) of probe agencies held in New Delhi yesterday it was decided to approach the global body along with another similar forum FATF for support in this regard.
A senior Finance Ministry official in New Delhi acknowledged that the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) invite for the meeting is meant for all the countries affected by Panama disclosures but a final decision on an Indian representation in the meeting will only be taken by the government.
“Government officials from around the world have called on the OECD to convene a special project meeting of the Joint International Tax Shelter Information and Collaboration (JITSIC) Network to explore possibilities of cooperation and information sharing, identify tax compliance risks and agree collaborative action in light of the ‘Panama Papers’ revelations.
“The meeting, to be held in Paris on April 13 will bring together senior tax administration officials from countries worldwide,” a statement by the OECD secretariat here said.
It said the JITSIC is a network of tax administration officials with responsibility for responding to global compliance risks through active collaboration and fast and effective information exchange with other tax administrations.
“The ‘Panama Papers’ revelations contain an unprecedented amount of information, including more than 11 million documents covering 210,000 companies in 21 offshore jurisdictions. Each transaction spans across a number of different jurisdictions and may involve multiple entities and individuals.
“The meeting at the OECD presents tax administrations with a first opportunity to act on the considerable body of information revealed by the ‘Panama Papers’ release. As a network of tax administrations committed to sharing intelligence and working together to tackle common risks, the JITSIC network is well placed to take on this challenge,” it said.
The ‘Panama Papers’ this week disclosed a list of nearly 500 Indians including celebrities and industrialists who allegedly stashed money in offshore entities in Panama, considered to be a tax haven.
After the names of Indians holding overseas accounts appeared, the government set up the MAG comprising officials from the RBI, IT department, Financial Intelligence Unit, Enforcement Directorate and Foreign Tax and Tax Research to investigate whether the money deposited in the tax haven is legal or illegal.
The names were released by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) with Indian Express newspaper in India. The ICIJ added a disclaimer that there are also “legitimate uses for offshore companies”.
Also read: Panama Papers – Full Coverage