India participated in the Joint International Taskforce on Shared Intelligence and Collaboration (JITSIC) meeting held recently in Paris where 30 Revenue Authorities shared their findings on investigations arising from the Panama Papers.
- The meeting included sharing of best practices and information between participating member countries based on legal instruments under the tax treaties and OECD and Council of Europe Multilateral Convention.
- The sharing of this information within a group of this size is unique and sets the basis for greater cooperation amongst tax administrations.
The ‘Panama papers’ leaks contain an unprecedented amount of information running into more than 11 million documents covering 2,10,000 companies in 21 offshore jurisdictions. The names were released by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
- About 500 Indians figure in the list which includes prominent businessmen, film celebrities and those belonging to lucrative professions.
- The government has created a Multi-Agency Group (MAG) of probe agencies, comprising the I-T department, the RBI, Financial Intelligence Unit and the Enforcement Directorate, to go into these cases.
About Joint International Task force on Shared Intelligence and Collaboration
The JITSIC brings together 36 of the world’s national tax administrations that have committed to more effective and efficient ways to deal with tax avoidance. It offers a platform to enable its members to actively collaborate within the legal framework of effective bilateral and multilateral conventions and tax information exchange agreements – sharing their experience, resources and expertise to tackle the issues they face in common.
- Open to all members of the OECD’s Forum on Tax Administration (FTA), the JITSIC operates through a Single Point of Contact (SPOC) in each country. It is supported by the FTA Secretariat based at the OECD.
- JITSIC was originally established in 2004 as the Joint International Tax Shelter Information Centre to combat cross-border tax avoidance. Building on its initial achievements, the JITSIC was re-established in 2014 with many new members from across the FTA.
- Since the last JITSIC meeting of this group, significant achievements have been made including the development of uniform approaches to requesting information between treaty partners, clearer understanding of the evasion typologies adapted by intermediaries, and new techniques for collating intelligence.
Powerful Indians who have hidden assets
An eight-month investigation of over 36,000 files has revealed some shocking details. One of the largest data leaks in the history revealed how the world leaders hide their cash and the names of more than 500 Indians, who are linked to off-shore companies, also surfaced.
- The investigation by The Indian Express revealed that there were 234 Indian passports (handed over by clients as part of the incorporation process).
- These records reveal a list of individuals who have paid the firm — and bought the benefits of the secretive, lax regulatory system in which it operates — to set up offshore entities in tax havens around the world.
- The documents were leaked from the law firm Mossack Fonseca and connect to 140 politicians in more than 50 countries.