Multi-agency group on Panama leak to probe Paradise Papers; SEBI to investigate firms on list

The vast leak of financial papers has details on 180 countries, India ranks 19th in terms of the number of names.

Published: 06th November 2017 05:15 PM  |   Last Updated: 07th November 2017 02:50 PM   |  A+A-

For representational purposes

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI: A multi-agency group (MAG) probing the Panama Papers leak will look into the 'Paradise Papers' on financial holdings abroad that list a number of Indian individuals and entities, official sources said today.

The sources said the MAG, constituted in April last year to investigate the legality of money stashed in offshore entities by Indians named in the Panama Papers, would probe the latest disclosure made by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

The MAG comprises officials from the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), the Income Tax Department, the Enforcement Directorate (ED), the Financial Intelligence Unit and the RBI among a few others.

The panel will first "go through" the details of income tax returns filed by the 714 Indian individuals and entities named in the 'Paradise Papers' and subsequently take action, in a case-to-case basis, the sources said.

"Obviously, notices will be issued once complicity of an individual or entity is established," a senior official said.

The leaked documents from Bermuda-based global offshore law firm Appleby and Singapore-based Asiaciti, published by the ICIJ, revealed off-sore investments by the high and mighty across the world.

The investments appear among a leak of 13.4 million files from the two firms and company registries of 19 tax havens.

The vast leak of financial papers has details on 180 countries. India ranks 19th in terms of the number of names.

The mention of names of the list does not mean that such entities have indulged in stash funds or have generated black money without paying due taxes.

SEBI to investigate firms named in Paradise Papers

Market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI)  will look into alleged fund diversion and corporate governance lapses at various listed firms and their promoters named in the leaked Paradise Papers.Among the entities named are Jindal Steel & Power, Essar Shipping, Videocon Industries, Sun TV Network and GMR Infrastructure.

SEBI will coordinate with other regulators and government agencies, while information would be sought from foreign regulators if required, one official said, while adding that a structured multi-regulatory approach could be discussed at Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC) or other such forums.

The leaked files, including those from offshore law firm Appleby, purportedly provide details of tax planning by nearly 100 MNCs, while more than 700 Indian companies and individuals are said to be among those named in the list.The investments appear among a leak of 13.4 million files from the two firms and company registries of 19 tax havens.

The vast leak of financial papers has details on 180 countries. India ranks 19th in terms of the number of names. The mention of names of the list does not mean that such entities have indulged in stash funds or have generated black money without paying due taxes.

The disclosures about other listed firms and those associated with them or their promoters would also be looked into for any irregularities including about corporate governance and disclosure norms, the officials added.

Officials maintained that mere presence of any Indian entity in an offshore tax-friendly jurisdiction may not amount to violation of laws, but non-disclosure about such entities and routing of funds to them could be ascertained only after a thorough investigation.

About the papers

The leaked files purportedly have details of tax planning by nearly 100 MNCs. Jindal Steel & Power, Essar Shipping, Videocon Industries, Sun TV Network and GMR Infrastructure are named among more than 700 Indian firms and people on the list.

(With PTI inputs)

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