OECD calls special session on 'Panama Papers'; India may join

OECD calls special session on

Submitted by alvin on Sat, 2016-04-09 10:17 New Delhi: With an objective to firm up cooperation between nations in the wake of 'Panama Papers' disclosures, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has called a special session of countries, including India, on April 13 in Paris, which India is also likely to join. The meeting will bring together senior tax administration officials from countries across the world, said an OECD statement. It said government officials from around the world have called on the OECD to convene a special project meeting of the Joint International Tax Shelter Information and Collaboration (JITSIC) Network in light of the Panama Papers revelations. The papers disclosed a list of nearly 500 Indians, including celebrities and industrialists, who allegedly stashed money in offshore entities in Panama, which is considered to be a tax haven. The OECD said the JITSIC is a network of tax administration officials with responsibility for responding to global compliance risks through active collaboration and fast and effective information exchange with other tax administrations. The Panama Papers revelations contain an unprecedented amount of information, including more than 11 million documents covering 2.1 lakh companies in 21 offshore jurisdictions. The papers disclosed a list of nearly 500 Indians, including celebrities and industrialists, who allegedly stashed money in offshore entities in Panama, which is considered to be a tax haven. After the names of Indians holding overseas accounts appeared, the government set up the MAG comprising officials from the RBI, IT department, Financial Intelligence Unit, Enforcement Directorate and Foreign Tax and Tax Research to investigate whether the money deposited in the tax haven is legal or illegal. Earlier, in a startling revelation, British Prime Minister David Cameron admitted that he has benefited from a Panama-based offshore trust set up by his late father. According to the Guardian, after days of stalling and statements issued by the Downing Street, Cameron confessed that he owned shares in the fund which he sold just before becoming Prime Minister in 2010. Iceland Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson resigned from his post in the wake of revelations. The resignation of the Iceland prime minister is the first prominent political fallout after the leak of documents from a secretive Panamanian law firm about offshore shell companies and tax shelters. Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said a high-level judicial commission would be formed to probe his family after the expose revealed that his sons and daughter owned offshore companies. According to the Dawn, Sharif said the judicial commission would be led by a retired Supreme Court judge. 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. The veteran actor, however, rejected suggestions of him having any links with offshore companies listed in the Panama Papers. In a statement, Bachchan said, "I do not know any of the companies referred to by Indian Express - Sea Bulk Shipping Company Ltd, Lady Shipping Ltd, Treasure Shipping Ltd, and Tramp Shipping Ltd. I have never been a director of any of the above stated companies. It is possible that my name has been misused. I have paid all my taxes including on monies spent by me overseas. Monies that I have remitted overseas have been in compliance with law, including remittances through LRS, after paying Indian taxes. In any event the news report in Indian Express does not even suggest any illegality on my part." Welcoming the expose, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the government has constituted a multi-agency group to monitor all information and collect further information in this regard, and warned of strict action against those whose accounts were found to be unlawful. (ANI)