Panama Papers: 424 under probe, India gets data on 165 cases with links to offshore firms

According to data made available at the latest meeting of the Multi Agency Group (MAG) last month, the number of Indian clients of Mossack Fonseca, whose PAN numbers had been traced, has swelled to 424.

Written by Ritu Sarin | New Delhi | Updated: March 16, 2017 10:32 am
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Nearly a year after The Indian Express published the Panama Papers, tax authorities have succeeded in obtaining 165 replies — partial or complete — from among 13 jurisdictions where Indian nationals had incorporated offshore companies through the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. According to data made available at the latest meeting of the Multi Agency Group (MAG) last month, the number of Indian clients of Mossack Fonseca, whose PAN numbers had been traced, has swelled to 424. Of these, 205 have accepted links to offshore entities named in the global expose. However, 60 other Indians named in the Panama Papers remain untraced.

The MAG, comprising officials of CBDT, RBI, Financial Intelligence Unit and ED, was set up last year to ensure a “speedy and coordinated” probe against Indians whose names have figured in the Panama Papers for allegedly holding bank accounts in foreign nations. Until last month, Indian tax authorities, through the Foreign Tax and Tax Research (FTTR) division of the Ministry of Finance, sent 283 references to 13 offshore jurisdictions asking for incorporation, investment and bank account details of entities linked to Indian nationals. This marks a steady rise in the number of references sent by India — from 91 within July 2016 to 198 by October 2016.

Of the 283 references, only in 17 cases were “defects” found in requests sent by the Indian authorities. They are now likely to be sent again. Officials in the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) told The Indian Express that scrutiny of data received from jurisdictions such as Cyprus, British Virgin Islands (BVI), Seychelles and Jersey are quite “substantial” in a few cases. In several other cases, officials said, foreign counterparts have replied that the offshore entities under focus may have been struck off and ceased to exist.

Officials said the largest number of “satisfactory replies” have been received from BVI. Officials are currently drafting guidelines for all units handling the Panama Papers cases to move to the next stage of investigations based on information received from abroad. The latest figures have been shared with all officials attending meetings of the MAG, which was set up by the government on the day The Indian Express published its first series of reports on the Panama Papers on April 4, 2016.

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The Panama Papers is an investigative project jointly pursued by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and Suddeutsche Zeitung and over 100 media organisations, including The Indian Express. The leaked data contains 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. The Supreme Court, which is hearing a PIL on the need for a court-monitored probe in the case, had earlier this month asked the CBDT to submit all copies of reports prepared by the MAG in a sealed cover before the next hearing.

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  1. U
    USA
    Mar 16, 2017 at 3:34 am
    Hindus are known for corruption and communalism
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      Sonu Malik.
      Mar 16, 2017 at 1:57 am
      Now what? What do they mean by the next stage of investigation? All these people must be prosecuted and let them prove that they are not guilty. As a first step their ( hopefully only one!) Pport must be confiscated and of their immediate family members.
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        SubbuI
        Mar 16, 2017 at 8:15 am
        AJAY WHO CAMPAIGNED FOT BJP IN BIHAR EMBLY ELECTIONS AFTER HIS NAME WAS ERRUPTED IN "PANAMA PAPERS" MUST FIRST BE INVESTIGATEDD ALONG WITH GUJARATH DOGS AMBADOR AMITABH BACHAN AND HIS EX BEAUTY QUEEN AISHWARYA RAI.THESE THREE MUST BE PRISCUTED AND PUNISHED WITH OUT FEAR OR FAVOUR
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          SubbuI
          Mar 16, 2017 at 8:17 am
          IN MY BELOW COMMENT I MEANT AJAY DEVGN WHEN I MENTIONED AJAY .FOR READERS INFORMATION
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            SubbuI
            Mar 16, 2017 at 8:28 am
            MOST OF THE PERSONS INVOLVED IN " PANAMA PAPERS" SCANDLE ARE WELL CONNECTED WITH RULING PARTY AND ITS TOP GUNS. NOTHING WILL HAPPEN TO THEM.lt;br/gt;EVEN NALAYAK NMODI BRING ALL THESE SCAM MONEY BACK HE CAN KEEP HIS PROMISE OF PUTTING 15 LACS IN EACH INDIAN'S ACCOUNT!WILL HE? May be for all but MUSLEMS ?
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