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Panama papers: I-T slaps criminal charges under new anti-black money law

The CBDT said the Panama Papers contained brief particulars of about 426 persons, prima facie, Indians or persons of Indian origin.

Reported by: PTI, New Delhi [ Published on: November 19, 2017 23:22 IST ]
Representational pic - Panama papers: I-T slaps criminal
Representational pic - Panama papers: I-T slaps criminal charges under new anti-black money law

Stepping up probe into the Panama Papers, the income tax department has slapped criminal charges under the new anti-black money Act and launched fresh assessment of stashed offshore income against over half-a-dozen Indian entities in the list, official sources said.

They said the department has detected undisclosed assets and stashed funds located in foreign countries in case of seven individuals and entities named in the leaks and the taxman has begun investigations against them under the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015.

Sources privy to the probe said the tax department has ordered fresh assessment and also re-assessment of the income of these entities and will soon launch criminal prosecution against all of them as the entities had allegedly not disclosed offshore properties to Indian tax and banking authorities in the past.

These are the first set of cases of undisclosed foreign assets which are being probed under the new anti-black money Act, that has criminal sections for prosecution under the law.

Under the new anti-black money law, cases of overseas illegal assets, which till recently were probed under the regular and civil Income Tax Act of 1961, attract a steep 120 per cent tax and penalty on undisclosed foreign assets and income besides carrying a jail term of up to 10 years.

Prosecution of these seven entities under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) would also be initiated in the coming days, as the anti-black money Act of 2015 qualifies to be a predicate offence for money laundering investigations, they said.

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The sources refused to divulge the identities of the seven entities citing the overriding global tax information exchange secrecy clauses between various countries.

The Central Board of Direct Taxes has recently said that investigations in the Panama Papers leak cases till now have resulted in the I-T department detecting undisclosed wealth of Rs 792 crore so far and the probe in these cases is on in "full swing".

Over a year after the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) made the documents public, the CBDT said it has found 147 of the total 426 cases "actionable".

The department also conducted searches in 35 cases and surveys in 11, the CBDT had said.

"The Income Tax Department conducted enquiries in all 426 cases, inter alia, through making 395 references to 28 foreign jurisdictions. Based on analysis of the information obtained and investigation conducted, the outcome so far indicates 147 actionable cases and 279 non-actionable cases (non-residents/ or no irregularities)," it said in the first week of this month.

The CBDT said the Panama Papers contained brief particulars of about 426 persons, prima facie, Indians or persons of Indian origin.

The government had constituted a multi-agency group (MAG) of investigative agencies in April last year to probe these instances.

The MAG has so far submitted seven reports to the government.

The CBDT had said the taxman's investigation in these cases is "in progress".

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