Income Tax officials pursuing Ambani money trail overseas

‘Notice served on the family over hidden foreign assets’

December 28, 2019 01:14 am | Updated 05:46 pm IST - Mumbai

Mukesh Ambani (right), poses with his wife Nita and son Akash | File

Mukesh Ambani (right), poses with his wife Nita and son Akash | File

The Income Tax department said it has ‘exchanged’ information regarding “members of the Mukesh Ambani family” over alleged “undisclosed foreign income and assets” in a quarterly meet this month at Ukraine, with seven countries India had pacts with.

Under the Double Tax Avoidance Agreements (DTAAs) as well as Anti Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism pacts, India’s tax department can expect a response within 90 days from its counterparts in seven countries — Switzerland, St. Lucia, Mauritius, Luxembourg, US, UK and Belgium.

IT department officials said even if the response shared under the common reporting system agreed upon by countries as part of the recently signed Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) pact, it may take a long time before a ‘Letter Rogatory’ (LR) could be initiated by the Department to approach authorities in old tax havens.

“We have rarely received a response from these same seven countries in less than 90 days as prescribed, and agreed upon under the two pacts . It will take a long time for us to move ahead in this particular case,” said an official, referring to the overseas accounts linked to the Ambani family.

The department reportedly served a notice on March 28, 2019 to the Ambani family under the provisions of the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act of 2015, regarding holdings in the Capital Investment Trust.

E-mailed queries to Mukesh Ambani’s flagship firm Reliance Industries on the issue, didn’t elicit aresponse till the time of going to press. A RIL source told The Hindu , “The company has not received any letter.”

A media report had claimed the IT department notice had also included names of the three children of Mukesh Ambani. The report had claimed the Ambanis had failed to disclose details and holdings in the Cayman Islands-based Infrastructure Company Limited of which they were also “ultimate beneficiaries.”

The Swiss Leaks, in 2015, had named 1,195 Indian Accounts, including 14 holdings connected to Capital Investment Trust, found connected to 628 Indians who had accounts in HSBC Private Bank, including the Ambanis. The collective worth of these accounts was estimated to be ₹25,000 cr in 2006-07.

Meanwhile, an RIL spokesperson said that the Mukesh Ambani family has no undisclosed foreign income or asset. “We once again strongly deny any suggestion that any member of Mukesh Ambani family had or has any undisclosed foreign income or asset and that they failed to disclose. The query sent to us is baseless and has been sent only with malicious intent. We reserve our rights to take action as legally advised,” he said.

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