New Delhi: Acting on the Panama Papers leak, the Income Tax department has sent a detailed questionnaire to about 50 individuals and entities figuring in the list of those allegedly holding offshore assets in tax havens. Officials said investigation wings of the department in different cities have dispatched the communication to these people whose names have appeared in the Indian Express newspaper seeking answers on two broad questions from them.
The first question seeks to know if they are indeed the person named in the list made public recently and the second asks them about the vitals of their transactions made with the law firm Mossack Fonseca. It includes the year of incorporation, their source of income, details of business transactions done and whether they declared these investments and transactions to the Income Tax department and other regulatory bodies like RBI any time till now.
They said as and when the department obtains more names, fresh communication of this kind will be sent. There are about 500 Indians named in the list which includes prominent businessmen, film celebrities and those belonging to lucrative professions. The government has created a Multi-Agency Group (MAG) of probe agencies to go into these cases, comprising the IT department (CBDT), its foreign tax wing, the RBI, Financial Intelligence Unit and the Enforcement Directorate.
A preliminary report has been sought from the MAG by this week by the Finance Ministry, which is expected to forward it to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO). 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".
The 'Panama Papers' leaks contain an unprecedented amount of information, including more than 11 million documents covering 2,10,000 companies in 21 offshore jurisdictions. Each transaction spans different jurisdictions and may involve multiple entities and individuals....