Two years after publication of the Paradise Papers, the Income Tax Department has filed its first batch of prosecutions against Indians who had allegedly not declared the offshore entities they owned.
Paradise Papers, a cache of 13.4 million documents containing undisclosed details of offshore companies incorporated by Bermuda’s Appleby and Singapore’s Asiaciti as well as by others in 19 different tax havens, were investigated and published in November 2017 by 96 media organisations worldwide in collaboration with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
Watch | Paradise Papers: The India Story
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After the release of the Paradise Papers, the Finance Ministry announced that details of offshore holdings of 714 Indians named would be investigated by the Multi Agency Group which was set up after publication of the Panama Papers in April 2016.
Within a month, summons were sent by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) to Indians named in the investigation.
Details available with The Indian Express show that the first prosecution cases in the Paradise Papers have been filed in courts in Lucknow, Mumbai and Chennai against Indians who figured in offshore registries in Malta and Bermuda.
A case has been filed in a Mumbai court against Ritesh Jain who had allegedly incorporated an offshore entity named Goldbird Holdings in Malta in 2009 and was the company’s shareholder, director as well as its legal representative.
While the company was “struck off” by the time the Paradise Papers were published, the company owner had evidently not declared the ownership of the Malta entity.
There have been two prosecutions filed in Lucknow.
The first is against Ravi Kumar, a resident of Ghaziabad, who allegedly incorporated another offshore company in Malta named Bapu International Pvt Ltd in 2012 and Paradise Papers data shows it was active at the time of the global media expose.
Records show that Ravi Kumar held all key posts in the company.
The other prosecution case filed by the Lucknow unit is against Bandopadhaya-Satyendra N, who was listed in the Paradise Papers as being the Secretary and Vice President of a company named Alpha Thought Global Limited. This company was incorporated in 2012 in Bermuda and two addresses in Noida, Uttar Pradesh, have been listed against his name in the Paradise Papers database.
The prosecution case filed in Chennai is against Ananth-Arjun for having allegedly incorporated a Bermuda company named Celetronix International Ltd. He is listed as being the shareholder of the company which was incorporated in year 2000. CBDT officials said this was only a first batch of prosecutions and that other cases against owners of undeclared offshore companies would be filed shortly.
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