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Panama Papers case: I-T department sends 200 info exchange requests

In its probe of Panama Papers case, the Income Tax department sent about 200 requests invoking various tax information exchange treaties in order to obtain banking and other financial data of Indians named in the

India TV Business Desk, New Delhi [ Published on: September 04, 2016 12:53 IST ]
Panama paper leaks
Panama paper leaks

In its probe of Panama Papers case, the Income Tax department sent about 200 requests invoking various tax information exchange treaties in order to obtain banking and other financial data of Indians named in the list. 

While about 192 such requests have already been dispatched to the foreign shores, about a dozen more are in the offing, officials said.

The countries to which these references have been made include the United States, the UK, Singapore, nations in the Caribbean islands, Switzerland, British Virgin Islands and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), among others. 

The department has also got in touch with about 380 entities and individuals named in the list out of which less than 200 have owned up the accounts, while the rest have either disagreed or their whereabouts are not known and are being traced, they said. 

In order to get hold of all those who are either refusing to own up or about whom there is little information, the department has invoked information exchange treaties like the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA), Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA) and similar other protocols and have sent 200 requests across the globe to solicit vital information and data about them. 

The department, in many cases, is facing non-cooperation and and non-acceptance of accounts by numerous entities as revealed in the Panama Papers and hence had to widen its approach towards the foreign jurisdictions and seek and obtain "good and actionable" information. 

"What has been sought is the banking and other financial transactions data of those Indians named in the list. The requests carry essential information gathered against such entities based on the work done in this regard by IT investigation wings across the country," officials said. 

"The cases were vetted by the Central Board of Direct Taxes and, after a case was made out, these requests were sent," they said. 

A Multi-Agency Group created to probe these cases has already submitted five reports to the government and also to the Special Investigation Team (SIT) on black money in this regard. 

The Income Tax department had earlier sent a detailed questionnaire to a number of individuals and entities figuring in the list of those allegedly holding offshore assets in tax havens and is vetting their response. 

About 500 Indians figure in the list which includes prominent businessmen, film celebrities and those belonging to lucrative professions. 

The government has created a Multi-Agency Group (MAG) of probe agencies to go into these cases, comprising the IT department (CBDT), its foreign tax wing, the RBI, Financial Intelligence Unit and the Enforcement Directorate. 

The Panama Papers scandal burst came into the media in April when millions of secret client documents from a Panama law firm’s servers were leaked. The papers detailed how foreigners used a Panama law firm to create or manage offshore entities to store assets, some illegally.  

Some of these firms and individuals were linked to tax evasion, money laundering and organised crime.

The names were released by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). 

While releasing the list, the ICIJ had added a disclaimer that there are also "legitimate uses for offshore companies". 

The 'Panama Papers' leaks contain an unprecedented amount of information running into more than 11 million documents covering 2,10,000 companies in 21 offshore jurisdictions. 

Each transaction spans different jurisdictions and may involve multiple entities and individuals.

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