The finance ministry today said the fresh revelations under the ‘Panama Paper Leaks’ are being looked into by the Multi Agency Group (MAG), which includes the tax department and the Reserve Bank.
The ‘Panama Paper leaks’ were originally revealed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) on April 4, 2016, following which, the Indian government had set up the MAG to probe the matter.
As per a report in a section of media, more than 1.2 million fresh documents, of which about 12,000 are linked to Indians, have come to light.
“The fresh release made in the media today under the ‘Panama Paper Leaks’ is being promptly looked into by the law enforcement agencies under the aegis of the MAG already constituted for facilitating coordinated and speedy investigation,” the ministry said in a release.
It said the Panama Paper leaks involving 426 persons have been already investigated by the Income Tax Department and other member agencies of the MAG.
In the 74 cases found actionable, it said “invasive actions” were taken in 62 cases with searches conducted in 50 cases, and surveys in 12 cases leading to detection of undisclosed foreign investments of about Rs 1,140 crore.
In 16 cases criminal prosecution complaints have been filed in jurisdictional courts which are at various stages of hearing. In 32 cases notices under Section 10 of the Black Money Act have been issued.
“The investigations conducted in Panama Paper cases reflect the government’s continued focus in dealing with black money stashed abroad. The promptness in action is more than evident as most of the actionable cases have been effectively addressed,” the ministry said.
It further said that though the investigating agencies faced problems of incomplete data and absence of financial information as well as not very prompt cooperation from other countries, the overall outcome has been “very satisfactory”.
The government would like to assure that the fresh series of Panama Papers information would also be effectively addressed within a reasonable time-frame, it said.
The ministry said that the standard operating procedures in place for investigating such cases will be followed.
The procedure involves examining the information revealed in the media release with the disclosures made by the alleged persons in the annual returns of income filed, particularly in the foreign assets (FA) schedule, foreign remittance details will be undertaken expeditiously, followed by raising of relevant queries.
In April 2016, the government constituted the MAG — headed by Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) chairman as its convener — comprising representatives of the Income Tax Department, Enforcement Directorate (ED), Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and Reserve Bank of India (RBI).