More reports on: World economy

Panama Papers reveal 2,000 Indian links so far

11 May 2016

Nearly 2,000 individuals, entities and addresses with links to India - representing nearly one per cent of the 2,14,000 offshore entities - figure in the latest edition of 'Panama Papers' giving information on offshore holding of companies in tax havens.

These include about 22 offshore entities, 1,046 officers or individual links, 42 intermediaries and as many as 828 addresses within the country.

These have representation of the high and mighty across regions, ranging from metropolitan cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai to mofussil towns like Haryana's Sirsa, Bihar's Muzaffarpur, Madhya Pradesh's Mandsaur and state capital Bhopal and even those in the North East.

"The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) publishes today a searchable database that strips away the secrecy of nearly 2,14,000 offshore entities created in 21 jurisdictions, from Nevada to Hong Kong and the British Virgin Islands.

"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.

ICIJ, which sourced the secret offshore data from a Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, brought out the first edition of the 'Panama Papers' last month. The international alliance, however, said there could be ''duplications'' in the list and also not all accounts needed to be illegal.

"There are legitimate uses for offshore companies and trusts," it pointed out.

"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 web portal as part of the disclaimer on the release of the offshore "leaks" database.

The data base in possession of ICIJ has names and addresses that not only show identities of some individuals and addresses along with description of the companies held but also specifies the date of incorporation of the firms in some cases.

The database has around 30,000 documents listed with India links.

ICIJ said it was releasing these additional details on names and addresses in "public interest" and also to "find out who's behind almost 3,20,000 offshore companies and trusts from the Panama Papers and the offshore leaks investigations."

The government, meanwhile, created a multi-agency group (MAG) comprising officers of various central investigative agencies like the Income Tax department, FIU, RBI and Foreign Tax and Tax Research (FT and TR) under the Central Board of Direct Taxes apart from the Special Investigation Team (SIT) on black money reviewing probe in these cases.

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. The database contains a great deal of information about company owners, proxies and intermediaries in secrecy jurisdiction,'' the organization said.

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