Reuters/ New Delhi
India yesterday said it would investigate cases linked to the Pandora Papers leak of financial documents, though it added that the “names of only a few Indians have appeared so far in the media”.
Millions of leaked documents dubbed the Pandora Papers and a worldwide journalistic partnership on Sunday claimed to have uncovered financial secrets of current and former world leaders, politicians and public officials in 91 countries and territories, including India. The ICIJ, which involved the BBC and The Guardian newspaper in the UK and The Indian Express in India among 150 media outlets in its investigation, claims it obtained the trove of more than 11.9mn confidential files to find secret financial dealings of many super rich.
India’s ministry of finance said in a statement “relevant investigative agencies would undertake investigation in these cases and appropriate action would be taken in such cases as per law.”
“With a view to ensure effective investigation in these cases, the government will also proactively engage with foreign jurisdictions for obtaining information in respect of relevant taxpayers/entities.”
The probe will be undertaken by a multi-agency group, headed by the Central Board of Direct Taxes chairman J B Mohapatra and having representatives from CBDT, enforcement directorate, Reserve Bank of India and the Financial Intelligence Unit – India (FIU-IND)
The board further stated that names of only a few Indians — legal entities as well as individuals — have appeared so far in the media, and the website of International Consortium of Investigative Journalists suggests that information will be released in phases.
At least six Indian politicians have been linked with offshore dealings, according to a map presented by the ICIJ
“People linked by the secret documents to offshore assets include India’s cricket superstar Sachin Tendulkar, pop music diva Shakira, supermodel Claudia Schiffer and an Italian mobster known as ‘Lell the Fat One’,” says the ICIJ in its report.
“Tendulkar’s attorney said the cricket player’s investment is legitimate and has been declared to tax authorities,” it noted.
According to an Indian Express report, businessman Anil Ambani has 18 asset holding offshore companies despite declaring bankruptcy in a British court.
Also, fugitive economic offender Nirav Modi’s sister set up a trust just a month before the tainted diamantaire fled India.
The Indian Express also reported that several Indians who owned offshore entities opted for a reorganisation of their assets after the ICJ leak dubbed ‘Panama Papers’ in 2016. The report says Tendulkar liquidated such assets in the wake of the 2016 expose.
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