Pandora ring

A multi-agency group begins an investigation; holds its first meeting

The multi-agency group (MAG) on Pandora Papers began its preliminary investigation of the entities and persons named in Pandora Papers and held its first meeting last week.

The MAG meeting was chaired by the Chairman of the Central Direct Taxation Council, JB Mohapatra. Officials from the Chief Execution Officer (ED), Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) attended the meeting. Sources said ANI that MAG, at its meeting, discussed information reported by the International Consortium of International Journalists (ICIJ) on October 3, 2021, where it was a mine of 2.94 terabytes (TB) data that exposes the offshore secrets of the wealthy elites of over 200 countries and territories.

According to the source present at the meeting, MAG discussed the Pandora Papers leak reported by the ICIJ. “Only a few of the 380 Indian names and entities have appeared in the media so far. MAG will speed up its investigation once the rest of the Indian entity names are released by the ICIJ,” ​​sources said. “It was decided during the meeting that MAG will seek information from affected countries on Indian entities named in Pandora Papers through Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI). tax returns in order to detect cases, if any, of tax evasion, ”added the sources.

India has activated the AEOI relationship to receive information from 96 countries, including the British Virgin Islands and the Bahamas, where Indian entities have invested their wealth. Sources further said that MAG also has an Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) platform where, through spontaneous information exchange, India can request information from countries concerned.

“The tax authorities have also provided a Common Reporting Standard (CRS), where the CRS requires financial institutions to identify the tax residency of all customers and, in most cases, report customer information that is tax residents outside the country / jurisdiction where they keep their accounts, ”they said. According to the ICIJ, as many as 380 Indians are on the list of the world’s elite who have been denounced for isolating their wealth through an obscure financial transaction and for using offshore tax havens to hide corporate assets. worth millions of dollars.

The investigation is based on a leak of confidential records of 14 offshore service providers who provide professional services to high net worth individuals and companies seeking to form shell companies, trusts, foundations and other entities in corporations. low or no tax jurisdictions. The sources said MAG will take appropriate action according to the law.

Earlier in a statement, CBDT said the government will also proactively engage with foreign jurisdictions to obtain information regarding affected taxpayers / entities. The Indian government is also part of an intergovernmental group that ensures collaboration and the sharing of experiences to effectively deal with the tax risks associated with such leaks.

It can be noted that following previous similar leaks in the form of ICIJ, HSBC, Panama Papers and Paradise Papers, the government had already enacted Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and the imposition of the 2015 law to curb black money or undisclosed foreign assets and income by imposing an appropriate tax and penalty on such income. Undisclosed credits of approximately Rs 20,352 crore (status as of 15.09.2021) were detected in investigations conducted in the Panama and Paradise Papers.

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Posted on: Tuesday October 19, 2021 3:29 PM IST


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