A Multi-Agency Group has been set up to fast-track the investigation into the Indians named in the Panama Papers leak, the central government informed the Supreme Court on Monday. The group includes representative from the Central Board of Direct Taxation, Reserve Bank of India, Financial Intelligence Unit and Enforcement Directorate. They will ascertain claims of whether the accused hold bank accounts in foreign nations, PTI reported.
The move to establish a Multi-Agency Group is part of the government's promise to bring home black money parked abroad. 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.
The Department of Economic Affairs told the apex court that around Rs 8,186 crore has been brought under the tax purview despite lack of cooperation from Swiss authorities. Officials said that in a number of cases, they had found other means to obtain information as banking authorities had not been cooperative.
According to the Centre, around Rs 1,282 crore has been levied in 159 cases related to concealment of taxes owed to the government. It had called for a dismissal of a public interest litigation demanding a court-monitored Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry into the Panama paper leaks. The Centre's affidavit said, "So far, 164 prosecution complaints have been filed in 75 cases. The Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team on black money has been kept updated on the progress of these investigations."
Moreover, the Finance Ministry failed to reply to claims by advocate ML Sharma, who has sought a direction in an interim plea that the offshore portfolio investors – who invest in the Indian stock markets through participatory notes without registering with the market regulator – should not be permitted to withdraw money till further orders.