India ‘seeks explanations’ from 426 individuals over offshore investments
Some of India’s most high profile stars are involved in a government led ‘Enforcement Directorate’ that has requested offshore investment information from 426 Indians or persons of Indian origin, relating to explanations for overseas investments made since 2004.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) will then file a status report on 45 cases of money laundering registered after the Panama Papers leaks, to the Indian prime minister’s Office by tomorrow (15 December).
The agency will also issue fresh show cause notices to individuals whose names appeared in the Panama Papers leaks, seeking explanations for overseas investments made since 2004, according to reports in the Indian press today.
The Panama Papers contained details of about 426 Indians or persons of Indian origin, who are alleged to have companies in tax havens. Some of the high-profile individuals named, including Hindi film actors, received summons to join the probe and furnish details of their earnings and tax related documents.
“We are working on the status report of the cases being probed and will soon submit a report to the multi-agency group that was constituted by the government to probe the Panama Papers case, which will be sent to the PMO,” an ED official told local reporters.
Once the multi-agency group consisting of officers of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) prepare their reports in connection with the probe, they will be placed before the court, an ED officer explained to local reporters.
Sources in the ED said that of the 45 cases being investigated by them, only a few are of serious tax evasion, wherein individuals routed money to offshore companies without informing the income tax department, while other cases seem to be routing money for investment purposes, including purchase of properties.
After the Panama Papers were made public in 2016, the Indian Income Tax Department had initiated investigations against more than 400 individuals. The tax authorities are said to have received sound evidence from overseas in about 30 cases.
The ED is also probing around 700 individuals, including politicians and industrialists, whose names figured in the Paradise Papers leaks for their alleged offshore investments. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) this year made public 13.4 million leaked documents which it said originate from a Bermuda-based firm called Appleby that provides offshore legal services to the world’s wealthiest.