India sets up multi-agency probe team on ‘Panama Papers’ expose

New Delhi, April 4 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday ordered a multi-agency probe team on the global expose by International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), dubbed the “Panama Papers”, which found over 500 Indians also had alleged offshore links.

“A multi-agency group is being formed to monitor the black money trail,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said here after the expose was published in The Indian Express. “Details of the assets worth Rs.6,500 crore has already been found,” he added.

As per a statement issued by his ministry, the probe team will comprise officers from the Central Board of Direct Taxes’ Financial Intelligence Unit, its Tax Research Unit as also officials from the Reserve Bank of India.

“The group will monitor the flow of information in each one of the case. The government will take all the necessary actions as required to get maximum information from all sources including from foreign governments to help in the investigation process,” the statement added.

The journalists’ consortium had said late on Sunday that its members and more than 100 other news organisations around the globe have found offshore links of some of the planet’s most prominent people. The list included over 500 Indians.

The details of the Indians with such offshore funds were published in The Indian Express. But whether or not such funds exist, and also if they were illegal is what the probe team ordered by Modi is expected to look into.

“In terms of size, the Panama Papers is likely the biggest leak of inside information in history – more than 11.5 million documents – and it is equally likely to be one of the most explosive in the nature of its revelations,” the consortium said of its investigation published.

In the context of the commitment of the central government to bring out undisclosed money both from abroad and from within the country, information brought out by any investigative journalism was welcome, the finance ministry said.

The ministry said in the past too, based on the investigations by ICIJ in 2013 — that showed the links of 700 Indians with business connection with off-shore entities — the agencies of the government were able to identify 434 persons as Indian residents.

It also said 184 persons admitted their relationship with such off-shore entities/transactions.

“Although, in the previous report of ICIJ, information relating to financial transactions/bank accounts was not available, the government authorities have detected credit in the undisclosed foreign accounts of such Indian persons in excess of Rs.2,000 crores.”

As a consequence, 52 prosecution complaints have been filed against the alleged offenders so far.

“The government is committed to detecting and preventing the generation of black money. In this context the expose of Panama Papers will further help the government in meeting the objective,” the finance ministry added.

The government expressed concern that tax havens were making countries like India suffer tax losses.

“The recent initiative of ‘Base Erosion’ and ‘Profit Shifting’ (BEPS) will help India and other countries in checking the practice of tax-avoidance through such tax havens. India is also fully committed to the BEPS initiative.”

In India, The Indian Express ran several pages of the investigation reports alleging, among other names, Bollywood superstarts Amitabh Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai, being directors in companies in Panama.

The two did not immediately respond despite efforts to contact them. Aishwarya Rai’s media adviser told the newspaper that the information was false. The spokesperson for Aishwarya Rai said “no” when IANS asked her if she intended to issue a statement.

Among those named in the report were Sameer Gehlaut of India Bulls and K.P. Singh of DLF. Vinod Adani, elder brother of industrialist Gautam Adani, politician Shishir Bajoria from West Bengal and Anurag Kejriwal of Loksatta Party were also alleged to have set up companies in tax havens.

Bajoria told the paper that that “erroneous beneficial owner information” was given by mistake.

The Express said it had carried out the investigations spread over eight months with several global newspapers. Many of the other persons named in the Express reports responded, some denying while others maintaining that they had worked within the laws of the country.

Among the global leaders named were 12 current and former world leaders, including Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s family members. It also sought to reveal how associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin secretly shuffled as much as $2 billion through banks and shadow firms.

In Russia, the state-run media organisations were silent on the subject. In Pakistan, however, Sharif’s son Hussain told Geo News that his family had not done anything wrong.

11 Comments

  1. “..Bollywood Syperstat Amitabh Bachchan…” report naming one of the highly overrated individuals from Bollywood.

    Cool – Let’s all sing together –

    “JANA GANA MANA ‘HANA’ ‘PANAAMA’ JAYA HEY…’

  2. MIA RampaNNA,

    YOUR Bee Jokers Party (BJP) made a MOCKERY of themselves by inviting the Pakis to “investigate” the Pathankot attacks.

    And know what your Uncle Scrooge’s stooges did? They gave THEMSELVES a CLEAN CHIT and concluded that the attacks were perpetrated by Indian state/non-state actors!

    WHY invite KNOWN snakes into OWN backyard? Is the Bee Jokers Party on some high? Is the PMO ok? Is the PM OK?

    What does our Podi bhakta cum simple-minded drover from OK Corral say?

    Will bang some nonsensical ‘tunes’ on his moola-illada-taala Mridangam, praise Modi’ji and say I have no clue about some statues at his fav place in the world.. – the Murudeshwara statues? Or, will he drop the usual and come up with his daily canards about my so-called “rejected Yumreeki visa” for the 100+ 1th time?

    Lol… i JUST can’t wait! Rampa.. ‘hari-up-yaar’. 🙂 🙂 Anyway, I’m glad to know that you have realized your ambition of being a Go-Jeevitham prij manager. God bless Buffalo Billa. God bless you. 🙂

  3. Why does Joker Praveena Pinto talk about Pathaaana Kot attacks when this report is on Panama papers? I know that he is an illiterate and not known for any intelligent posts. Still, this one raises some serious questions on overall state of mind. Too much beef consumption?

  4. …when this report on Panama papers. – Joker rampa

    RampaNNA, even a simple-minded drover like you would know that one can’t open a new thread under ‘EYT’ like earlier. Hence, I have to post it under some topic or the other. Nonetheless, that does NOT dilute my posts in any sense. Unfortunately, a Chaddi like you an only duck and run for cover. Good going! 🙂

  5. As astutely pointed out by joker pinto, the new format doesn’t allow readers open a new thread on this forum. So, let me go ahead and add two more new topics:

    1. An Atheist gets murdered by a group who chanted ‘god is great’ in a foreign language as they hacked him to death!!
    http://iheu.org/atheist-student-nazimuddin-samad-killed-in-bangladesh/

    2. See how women are treated in Dubai. Now, imagine what would be the situation in Saudi Arabia where Pinto spent most of his last two decades following ‘bhagna swapna’!!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NgPnsid4r5s&feature=youtu.be

  6. Pai, have the brahmins treated their maids differently. Thanks to Ghandiji, the fate of indian maids trapped under caste would have been no better.

  7. Aruna,
    Why pick only on Brahmanas? Is it that hard to control brahmana-dhwesha taught by your foreign masters? The ‘class’ system is a curse to Indian society. It is not just Brahmana or Gowdas. The abuse of poor, underclass by rich and powerful is still rampant. Don’t you read those reports where ministers slap common folks or make them tie they shoelace? You think Indian maids in non-brahmana families are treated with tons of respect? Give me a break!!!

    The important distinction here is that all these are illegal in India. Don’t forget the main point.

  8. Joker Praveena Pinto,
    I see that you have continued with your old habit of attacking Doddanna as if USA’s domestic record in human rights area is same as your previous employer’s (Saudi) records!! To be fair, I understand why and how your ‘visa’ experience has left you in a bitter state, unable to think objectively about Doddanna. Regardless, here is the main point you fail to understand – Be it in USA, Europe or India, the human rights abuses are not protected by state. If an employer physically abuses an employee, he/she has the right to go and report it to authorities. However, as you probably would have experienced, you can’t do it in Saudi Arabia as your employer will carry more weight in the eyes of law. Not to mention the fact that he will be holding your passport and treating you like a slave puppet!! Not sure if you can understand this even after this explanation. Well, give it a try.

  9. “You can’t do it in Saudi Arabia as your employer will carry more weight in the eyes of law” – Saudi Arabian Prophet – Maha Joker Rampa.

    Lol! You speak with SUCH authority on such matters that I’m totally convinced that you spent a good decade or so out there!

    And hey, wasn’t it YOU who brought the book ‘Aadu Jeevitham’ to everybody’s attention out here? And boy, you recommended it very highly and further encouraged readers to read the original (which is in Malayalam). Anyway, I’m glad that you made it outta there in one piece. Cheers. 🙂

  10. It took more than a year for Joker Praveena to realize that ‘Aaadu Jeevitham’ was a malayaalam book!! LOL In a way, I am glad that he couldn’t read the book – It may remind him so much of his own past that he may get into another round of deep depression putting the earlier round of depression after visa rejection to shame!!!

    Again, I would like to drag him back to the original point of discussion here. His failed attempt to compare Doddanna to his previous employer’s record on human rights is lame, pathetic and quite honestly sad. It shows how he doesn’t even have a basic understanding of human rights. Then again, what do you expect from a person who had spent decades in Saudi Arabia ? LOL Can you imagine debating libertarian principles with these backward characters? LOL LOL

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