A plea has been filed in Delhi High Court seeking direction to the Union government and Multi-Agency Group (MAG) to speedily investigate allegations of money laundering and tax evasion by BJP leader and Odisha industrialist Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda, his wife and associates.
Hearing the matter on Tuesday, Delhi High Court Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar asked the ministry concerned about the constitution and powers of MAG, set up to probe companies and individuals, including politicians, named in the ‘Bahamas leaks’ and ‘Panama Papers leak’, and the progress made in its investigation.
The bench also issued notice to MAG and the Finance Ministry and sought their stand on a plea that also sought a probe into complaints of money laundering and black money against a politician, and some of his associates, who allegedly received funds from companies named in the ‘Bahamas leaks’.
The companies — Finlay Corporation Ltd, Messina Corporation Ltd and Pikika Limited — were incorporated in the Caribbean tax haven and figured in the Bahamas Leaks expose reported by The Indian Express with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in 2016. These leaks revealed information on thousands of offshore entities and their suspected connections to companies and individuals in various countries.
The MAG, comprising officers of the Central Board of Direct Taxes, the Reserve Bank of India, ED and Financial Intelligence Unit was set up in April 2016 by the Centre to investigate the Panama Papers leaks.
The court has now fixed the matter for further hearing on October 22.
The petition by Bhupendra Singh Patel, who claims to be an active social worker, said he complained against the politician and some of his companies and associates in January this year.