Panama Papers: Multi Agency Group Holds First Meeting

chalked out an action plan including approaching tax haven Panama, global economic bodies and the journalist consortium that did the expose.

Published: 07th April 2016 09:59 PM  |   Last Updated: 07th April 2016 09:59 PM   |  A+A-


View of a sign outside the building where Panama-based Mossack Fonseca law firm offices are placed in Panama City on April 3, 2016. A massive leak -coming from Mossack Fonseca- of 11.5 million tax documents on Sunday exposed the secret offshore dealings o


NEW DELHI: The Multi Agency Group (MAG) set up to probe the 'Panama Papers' held its first meeting here and chalked out an action plan including approaching tax haven Panama, global economic bodies and the journalist consortium that did the expose for obtaining documents.

The meeting deliberated on the inputs relating to Indians whose names have figured in the expose on offshore entities allegedly floated by individuals and corporates. The top brass of the Central Board of Direct Taxes and representatives of the FIU, RBI and  Foreign Tax and Tax Research (FT and TR) participated in the meeting held in the Finance Ministry here.

Official sources said a plan of action was charted by the agencies today as part of which the Financial Intelligence Unit and the Income Tax department and FT and TR (under CBDT) will approach the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and Panama to obtain more details on the Indian perspective.

The panel, sources said, will also approach global economic bodies like the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to not only obtain help in clamping overseas tax evasion but also ensuring global cooperation in this regard.

"As the Panama disclosures involve multiple nations, the member-countries of these two global bodies will have to strengthen their cooperation. The multi-agency group will also seek to obtain cooperation from Panamanian authorities vis-a-vis Indian names," they said.

The sources added that authorities in Panama will be asked to share the complaint registered by law firm Mossack Fonseca which has said that its servers were hacked resulting in the leak of millions of documents on financial data.

The RBI has been entrusted with the task of checking on contraventions of the Liberalised Remittance Scheme (LRS) by those whose names have appeared in the list, they said. Sources added as India did not have a tax information exchange treaty with Panama. They will be approached through diplomatic channels and with the help of global economic bodies.

 After the ICIJ expose and Indian Express report early this week, government had declared that action will be taken against "unlawful" accounts held abroad by Indians. It constituted the MAG to continuously monitor information in this regard that named 500 people including film actors and  industrialists who have allegedly stashed money in offshore entities.

The list was released by International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which added a disclaimer that there are also "legitimate uses for offshore companies".

The latest list, after similar ones came in the the past like 'Swiss leaks' and the HSBC-list related to Indians, claims it has sourced data in connection to millions of documents which show heads of state, criminals and celebrities using "secret hideaways" in tax haven of Panama.

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