Mumbai: The Finance Ministry on Monday said the investigation units looking into the Panama Papers will be reconstituted to probe and take “swift action” on the Paradise Papers, a set of 13.4 million corporate records that names 714 Indians and could expose them for skirting taxes or hedging funds.
The multi-agency group will be headed by CBDT Chairman Sushil Chandra and will have representatives from CBDT, Enforcement Directorate, Reserve Bank of India and Financial Intelligence Unit, said a government statement late on Monday.
The Paradise Papers “was a great development because it shows that (now) nothing remains a secret,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told The Indian Express. “With this, the secrecy of tax havens and transactions done through them have been smashed. The worldwide publication also shows that those who think they are indulging in what they think are undercover financial transactions are highly mistaken,” he said.
In what is being touted as one of the biggest corporate data leaks in the world, Paradise Papers are a collection of 13.4 million documents from Bermuda firm Appleby and Singapore-based Asiaciti Trust and corporate registries maintained by governments in 19 secrecy jurisdictions.
“The Investigation units of the Income Tax Department (ITD) have been alerted to take note of revelations for immediate appropriate action. It has been reported that many cases of offshore entities are already under investigation on fast track. As soon as further information surfaces, swift action as per law will follow,” said the government in a statement.
India ranks 19th in terms of the number of names and second among Appleby’s clients, a report by the Indian Express said.
Bigwigs like MoS Jayant Sinha, BJP Rajya Sabha MP Ravindra Kishore Sinha, celebrities Amitabh Bachhan and Sanjay Dutt’s wife Dilnashin Dutt (Manyata Dutt), corporate lobbyist Niira Radia, Jindal Steel, Apollo Tyres, Havells, Hindujas, Emaar MGF, Videocon, the Hiranandani Group and D S Construction, among others, feature on the list of 714 Indians.
The Paradise Papers cover the period between 1950 and 2016. They were obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
The documents provide an interesting study of how firms and individuals skirt taxes using artificial offshore entities....