In the wake of the explosive Panama Papers revelations, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley revealed that the Central government has constituted a multi-agency group to monitor all the information that has been made available, and to further investigate records in this regard. He also warned that strict action is going to be taken if discrepancies are found in the accounts of those who have been named in the expose.
"The Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) has also spoken to me in this regard, and after his advice we have constituted a multi-agency group to monitor all the information and collect further information in this regard," said Jaitley.
"The multi-agency group will comprise various government agencies that deal with the subject such as CDBT, FIOs among others and also representatives from the Reserve Bank. They will continuously monitor this. And, whichever accounts are found to be unlawful, strict action as per the existing law is going to be taken against them," said Jaitley while divulging details of the multi-agency group and its functioning.
Stating that the Indian Express had published a detailed investigation with regard to some accounts and assets held by some Indian entities in Panama, he pointed out that this was the fourth collective bunch of information and investigation that had been made.
"The first related to the Lichtenstein style accounts; against all persons involved in that, prosecutions have already been launched and assessment orders have been passed," he said.
"Then details came in 2011 with regard to HSBC account holders. Out of those account holders, 569 have been traced, 390 were found to be illegal, and already 154 set of prosecutions have been filed, while detailed assessment orders, which had led to the discovery of illegal assets worth about Rs. 6,500 crores, has already been found," he said, adding that prosecutions are taking their normal course and assessment proceedings and their consequential actions on.
"It may also be remembered that in 2013, the International Consortium of Investigated Journalists had published another list. That list was analysed, and even among them 434 Indians entities have been traced, 184 out of them have admitted their relationship with the accounts and the process of passing assessment orders and prosecuting them is now on," said the Finance Minister while divulging details of action taken by the government at various points of time.
Already 52 prosecutions have been filed, he added.
However, he said from today's investigation, it appears that in the next few days more names were going to come out. "I welcome this investigation. I think it's a healthy step that these kinds of exposes are being made. I have repeatedly been saying that the world is now going to now become increasingly more transparent, countries are cooperating with each other, and slowly all this information is going to come out as various global initiatives, which have been launched," he added, while lauding the investigation into the Panama Papers report.
The Panama papers reportedly feature the names of over 500 Indians linked to offshore firms.
According to a report appearing in The Indian Express, the Panama papers feature names such as film stars Amitabh Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, to corporates including DLF owner K.P. Singh and nine members of his family, and the promoters of Apollo Tyres and IndiaBulls to Gautam Adani's elder brother Vinod Adani. Two politicians who figure on the list are Shishir Bajoria from West Bengal and Anurag Kejriwal, the former chief of the Delhi unit of the Loksatta Party.