The Income Tax Department on Sunday said it had invoked several tax information treaties and made around 200 requests to collect banking- and finance-related evidence on Indians listed in the Panama Papers case, PTI reported. Among the treaties invoked are the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement and the Tax Information Exchange Agreement. An official said, “The requests carry essential information gathered against such entities, based on the work done in this regard by I-T investigation wings across the country.”
In April 2016, a major leak of millions of documents from the database of a Panama-based law firm – Mossack Fonseca – had revealed the hidden offshore wealth of some of the world's top leaders and celebrities, including 500 Indians. Officials said they had to resort to obtaining information through the tax information treaties as their inquiry was being hindered by non-cooperation. “The cases were vetted by the Central Board of Direct Taxes and, after a case was made out, these requests were sent,” an official told PTI.
As many as 192 requests were sent to a number of countries, including the United Kingdom, United States, Singapore, Switzerland and United Arab Emirates, while around 12 more are being processed, officials said. Of the messages sent to around 380 organisations and individuals, 200 admitted to possessing such accounts, while the remaining either denied the allegations or are absconding, they added.
An inter-agency body, set up to investigate cases raised by the Panama Papers leak, has prepared five reports for the government and a Special Investigation Team.