The Income Tax department has promised prompt investigation into the fresh series of cases pertaining to Panama Papers. This time it's being called Panama Papers: The Aftermath. The Ministry of Finance tweeted that the fresh cases are being looked into by law enforcement agencies under the aegis of Multi Agency Group (MAG). The MAG has already been constituted for facilitating coordinated and speedy investigation, it said.
The CBDT will also compare disclosures made by the alleged persons in the annual returns of income filed, particularly in the foreign assets (FA) schedule, foreign remittance details. The CBDT will also follow up with the preliminary probe with relevant queries.
In April 2016 the first panama paper leaks, the government constituted the MAG, headed by Chairman, Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) as its convener. The MAG had representatives of the Income Tax Department, Enforcement Directorate (ED), Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
Panama Papers: The Aftermath comprises more than 1.2 million fresh documents, out of which at least 12,000 of them are linked to Indians. The daily Indian Express, along with International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung, investigated this second batch in the course of which Panamanian law firm, Mossack Fonseca, the epicentre of the 2016 Panama Papers confirmed the existence of several customers who had denied any links as well as unmasked new clients in a bargain.
According to the daily, among the names that did not figure in the 2016 leak are Ajay Bijli, owner of PVR cinemas, as well as members of his family and Kavin Bharti Mittal, CEO of Hike Messenger and son of Sunil Mittal. Another new name is Jalaj Ashwin Dani, son of Asian Paints promoter Ashwin Dani. Famous names from outside India include football superstar Lionel Messi, Argentina's President Mauricio Macri's family and shell companies owned by iconic French jeweller Pierre Cartier.
On the status of cases under the first batch of leaks, Ministry of Finance said in a statement: "In the 74 cases found actionable, invasive actions were taken in 62 cases with searches conducted in 50 cases, and surveys in 12 cases leading to detection of undisclosed foreign investments of about Rs.1140 crore (approx). In 16 cases criminal prosecution complaints have been filed in jurisdictional courts which are at various stages of hearing. In 32 cases notices under section 10 of the Black Money Act have been issued."
The actionanle cases have been effectively addressed, the Ministry further stated. "Government would like to assure that the fresh series of Panama Papers information would also be effectively addressed within a reasonable time frame," it said.