CBDT Chair-led Group to Monitor Pandora Probe

The multi-agency group, headed by the chairman of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), will monitor investigations into the records of financial secrets leaked in the Pandora Papers, according to a decision taken by the government on Monday. The group will have representatives from apex tax body CBDT, Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Enforcement Directorate and Financial Intelligence Unit, which tracks suspicious transactions.

“The government has taken note of these developments.

The relevant investigative agencies would undertake investigation in these cases and appropriate action would be taken in such cases as per law,” said a CBDT release.

“With a view to ensure effective investigation in these cases, the government will also proactively engage with foreign jurisdictions for obtaining information in respect of relevant taxpayers/entities,” it added.

The multi-agency group is also reviewing the probes that followed the 2017 and 2018 release of confidential information in the Panama and Paradise papers.

“Undisclosed credits of Rs. 20,352 crores approximately (status as on September 15, 2021) have been detected in the investigations carried out in the Panama and Paradise Papers,” said CBDT.

Meanwhile, the tax department is preparing for the long haul that could involve open and third-party enquiries, notices, and surveys and tapping multiple jurisdictions, as it tries to convert “pieces of intelligence” unleashed by the Pandora Papers into “actionable information” under the Black Money Act.

“We need evidence,” said a tax official. “Often when confronted, a person in question says he has nothing to do with the foreign bank accounts and shares, and that they belong to some namesake. So, we need documents from other countries. These could be copies of passport, or account opening form having his signature. Some jurisdictions take a long time; some don’t readily cooperate.”

India is part of an inter-governmental group that ensures collaboration and experience-sharing to address tax risks associated with such leaks.S-ET

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