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Investigations have begun against 49 individuals and entities by the Enforcement Directorate in the Panama Papers case, the Government has told a Parliamentary panel. In a three-page note, the Central Board of Direct Taxes has told the Public Accounts Committee that the ED investigation comes after a referral from the Reserve Bank of India that these entities “may have contravened the provisions of FEMA, 1999.” The CBDT response comes a month after two BJP members, Nishikant Dubey and Anurag Thakur, had asked Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia to disclose action taken on Panama and HSBC cases.
The government has, however, not revealed the names under investigation. The CBDT has said that as on February 15, 266 requests have been sent to 18 foreign jurisdictions in the Panama Papers case. These are destinations which house offshore entities owned by Indians named in the Panama Papers and revealed by The Indian Express in April last year as part of an investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung.
So far, responses have been received in 165 cases, which include those where the foreign jurisdictions have sought further clarification. The Panama Papers referred to 11.5 million documents with details of offshore entities set up by Mossack Fonseca over 40 years, including details of entities set up by over 500 Indian nationals. These records revealed individuals who paid the firm — and bought the benefits of the secretive, lax regulatory system in which it operates — to set up offshore entities in tax havens around the world.
The CBDT has said that a total of 424 names and 256 groups are under investigation in Panama papers cases under 13 Director General of Income Tax (DGIT) jurisdictions in the country. Of this, 140 names are from Mumbai, followed by 105 from Delhi, 39 from Kolkata, 33 from Bangalore and 20 from Ahmedabad. While 249 of these are resident cases, 103 are non-resident. As many as 60 cases are not traceable. In the case of 349, their PAN numbers have been traced while summons have been issued in 370 cases. The government has received the response of 308 of them and 205 have admitted to their accounts while the number of “non-admitted” or “denied” is 77.
The Government has received 58 responses from foreign jurisdictions while a survey has been conducted in 11 cases. In 25 cases, search and seizure have been conducted. Giving the summary of the status in HSBC foreign account cases, the CBDT said that so far, 190 prosecution complaints in HSBC cases have been filed in 77 cases. As per information received from France, there are 628 persons/entities. Of these cases, 569 persons have been traced so far. Of the 628 cases (including four duplicate entries), 207 were found Not Actionable. Of the actionable cases, assessments have been completed in 409 cases.
The government said that undisclosed income of about Rs 8437 crore has been brought to tax on accounts of deposits made in unreported HSBC foreign accounts.