New Delhi: The Panama Papers probe in India has gathered momentum with the Enforcement Directorate (ED) issuing “advisories” to over 100 people named in the global media investigation.
Officials in ED told The Indian Express that over the past two months, they have sent 137 “advisories” under Section 37 of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) to Indians named in the Panama Papers.
These 137 names are from a long list of 192 Indians sent to the ED by the Income Tax (Investigation) wing , of persons against whom there is clear suspicion of tax evasion, and for a majority of whom references have resorted to various offshore jurisdictions for exchange of information under provisions of tax treaties.
Officials pointed out that on receiving the list from the IT, the ED instructed its zonal units in Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Chennai and other cities to send Section 37 advisories to persons whose addresses were found to be part of the leaked data of 210,000 offshore companies incorporated by Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.
In majority cases, responses are awaited from offshore entity owners on the purpose of setting up these companies and the nature of financial transactions.
After the IT and RBI, the ED is the third agency to actively join the Panama Papers probe. Following the global expose led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), the government set up a Special Taskforce for a probe into the Panama Papers.
As reported by The Indian Express on November 15, 2016, as many as 415 Indians are under the scanner as part of the probe. Till that date, 198 references had been sent by the Foreign Tax and Tax Research (FTTR) unit to jurisdictions such as the British Virgin Islands (BVI), Bahamas, Seychelles and Cyprus. At least 184 people are learnt to have admitted to having incorporated the named offshore entities with Mossack Fonseca.