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Panama Papers: Strict investigation going on, says Jayant Sinha

Finance Ministry today said that a strict investigation into 'Panama Papers' is on to find out if illegal activities have taken place in overseas Indian accounts
PTI April 11, 2016 16:11 IST

New Delhi: A strict investigation into 'Panama Papers' is on to find out if illegal activities have taken place in overseas Indian accounts, while full force of law has been applied to deal with 'wilful default' cases like that of Vijay Mallya, the Finance Ministry said today. 

Government has already constituted a multi-agency group including representatives of CBDT, Financial Intelligence Unit, and RBI to scrutinise the 'Panama Papers' which name 500 Indians including celebrities and industrialists who allegedly stashed money in offshore entities in Panama, considered to be a tax haven. 

"Whether you take the 'Panama Papers' or the HSBC list or whatever other information we get. For all this information, we are first looking at whether it is legal activity or illegal activity, Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha said here. 

"...strict action is being taken and strict investigation is going on. Nobody can escape," he added. 

Like Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has stated that people will have sleepless nights, those who have committed illegal act will have to face legal consequences, Sinha said. 

Answering question on wilful defaults, Sinha said various investigative agencies, banks and other financial institutions are applying the full force of law. 

"All the pressure that has to be applied to all wilful defaulters is being applied, all the investigative agencies are working on this and people of India should be absolutely assured that this is matter of highest priority for us and we will follow all these matters to the ends of the earth to ensure that justice is fully meted out," he said. 

Mallya, whose group company owes over Rs 9,000 crore to 17 banks, had left the country on March 2 and is believed to be in the UK. 

There are about 7,686 wilful defaulters who owe Rs 66,190 crore to public sector banks. Of these, suits have been filed in 6,816 cases and FIR has been lodged 1,669 cases. 

On the concerns of states that UDAY scheme is putting pressure on their finances, Sinha said there are multiple reasons for it including higher borrowings. 

"Some of the states are concerned about the impact on their fiscal positions but not just because of UDAY bonds but also because of higher borrowings and requirement for investments. We have discussed them in general sense and we will see what we can do," he said. 

It has been explained to states many a times that they don't have to necessarily look at their budget funds but there are many other funds they can tap into including multilaterals for high quality projects, he said.