Panama Papers: 2,000 Indian links in fresh ICIJ leak
A random check of the database for India shows 22 offshore entities, 1,046 officers or individual links, 42 intermediaries and 828 addresses
New Delhi: Some 2,000 individuals, entities and addresses with links to India figure in the latest edition of the so-called Panama Papers, which reveals information on offshore holdings in tax havens.
A random check of the database for India displays about 22 offshore entities, 1,046 officers or individual links, 42 intermediaries and as many as 828 addresses within the country.
The addresses range from posh locations in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai to points in rural regions such as Haryana’s Sirsa, Bihar’s Muzaffarpur and Madhya Pradesh’s Mandsaur.
“The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) publishes today a searchable database that strips away the secrecy of nearly 214,000 offshore entities created in 21 jurisdictions, from Nevada to Hong Kong and the British Virgin Islands,” the ICIJ said.
“The data, part of the Panama Papers investigation, is the largest ever release of information about offshore companies and the people behind them. This includes, when available, the names of the real owners of those opaque structures,” the consortium said.
The ICIJ brought out the first edition of the Panama Papers last month, by way of secret offshore data sourced from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.
The group said that the information about a particular country could have “duplicates” and reiterated that “there are legitimate uses for offshore companies and trusts”.
“We do not intend to suggest or imply that any persons, companies or other entities included in the ICIJ Offshore Leaks Database have broken the law or otherwise acted improperly,” the body said on its website.
India, taking note of more than 500 entities that surfaced in the first set of names released last month, had created a Multi-Agency Group (MAG) comprising officers from various central investigative agencies, including the income-tax department, the Financial Intelligence Unit, the Reserve Bank of India and foreign tax and tax research division of the Central Board of Direct Taxes, apart from the Special Investigation Team (SIT) on black money, which reviews probes into such cases.
The information on the ICIJ’s website includes not only the names of individuals and addresses and decscriptions of companies, but also specifies the dates of incorporation of firms in some cases.
The international organization said it was releasing these additional details on names and addresses in “public interest” and also to “find out who’s behind almost 320,000 offshore companies and trusts from the Panama Papers and the offshore leaks investigations.”
The ICIJ’s database has around 30,000 documents listed with Indian links.
The group said the “new data that ICIJ is now making public represents a fraction of the Panama Papers, a trove of more than 11.5 million leaked files from the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, one of the world’s top creators of hard-to-trace companies, trusts and foundations.”
“ICIJ is not publishing the totality of the leak, and it is not disclosing raw documents or personal information en masse,” it said.
“The database contains a great deal of information about company owners, proxies and intermediaries in secrecy jurisdictions, but it doesn’t disclose bank accounts, email exchanges and financial transactions contained in the documents,” the ICIJ added. “The leaked data covers nearly 40 years, from 1977 through the end of 2015.”
The central government has also said the income-tax department has issued notices to all entities named after the first leak. Indian investigators had said they “will be looking into” fresh information that comes in this case, including the latest revelations.
The Supreme Court also had on Monday sought response from the centre on a plea seeking a Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry against Indian offshore bank account holders named in the Panama Papers.
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