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Government promises probe into ‘Pandora Papers’ leak

The government has promised an investigation into the revelations in the ‘Pandora Papers’ and assured appropriate action in such cases as per law, the Finance Ministry said in a statement on Monday evening.

Stating that only ‘a few Indians’ have been named in the papers so far, the Ministry said investigations in cases of Pandora Papers leaks appearing in the media will be monitored through a multi-agency group.

Anil Ambani, Vinod Adani, Jackie Shroff, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Niira Radia, Sachin Tendulkar and Satish Sharma, are among the 300 Indians mentioned in the list so far.

“The government will also proactively engage with foreign jurisdictions for obtaining information in respect of relevant taxpayers and entities,” the Ministry said, adding that India is part of an Inter-Governmental Group that ensures ‘collaboration and experience sharing to effectively address tax risks associated with such leaks’.

Also read: 'Pandora Papers': Key members of Pakistan PM's inner circle among over 700 Pakistanis named in leaks

The multi-agency group headed by the Central Board of Direct Taxes chairman, with representatives from the Enforcement Directorate, the Financial Intelligence Unit and the Reserve Bank of India, will keep a tab of the phased disclosures from the Pandora Papers indicated by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) website, the Ministry said.

Phased release

The website of ICIJ suggests that information will be released in phases and structured data connected to the Pandora Papers investigation will be released only in the days to come on its Offshore Leaks Database.

“It may be noted that following earlier similar such leaks in the form of ICIJ, HSBC, Panama Papers and Paradise Papers, the Government has already enacted the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015 with an aim to curb black money, or undisclosed foreign assets and income by imposing suitable tax and penalty on such income," the ministry pointed out,” the Ministry said.

Undisclosed credits of approximately ₹20,352 crore have been detected in the investigations carried out in the Panama and Paradise Papers by September 15.

‘Development hit’

Rights group Oxfam India has called for immediate action by authorities and abolishing tax havens following the expose of the Pandora Papers.

“Tax havens cost governments around the world $427 billion each year. Developing countries are being hardest hit, proportionately. Corporations and the wealthiest individuals that use tax havens are outcompeting those who don't. Tax havens also help crime and corruption to flourish,” Oxfam India CEO Amitabh Behar said.

Abolishing tax havens can go a long way towards ensuring that government actually have the access to tax revenue they need to fund quality public expenditure, he added.

Disclosures denied

Many of the people whose names figure on the list have rejected financial misdoings.

Among others, Biocon chief Ms Mazumdar-Shaw on Monday said her hubsand's offshore trust was bonafide and legitimate.

“Media stories reporting on Pandora Papers wrongly implicate my husband’s offshore trust, which is a bonafide, legitimate trust and is managed by Independent Trustees. No Indian resident holds “the key” to the trust as alleged in these stories,” Ms. Mazumdar-Shaw said in a tweet.

(With inputs from PTI)


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Printable version | Dec 9, 2021 11:00:44 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/government-promises-probe-into-pandora-papers-leak/article36824647.ece

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