OECD holds meet on 'Panama Papers'; nations pledge cooperation

A number of countries, including India, Wednesday exchanged views and "explored" mechanisms for cooperation on the issue during a special meeting called by global economic body OECD on 'Panama Papers' disclosure here.

PTI| Last Updated: Apr 13, 2016, 22:36 PM IST
OECD holds meet on 'Panama Papers'; nations pledge cooperation
Pic Courtesy: http://www.bbc.com/

Paris: A number of countries, including India, Wednesday exchanged views and "explored" mechanisms for cooperation on the issue during a special meeting called by global economic body OECD on 'Panama Papers' disclosure here.

About 500 Indians, including prominent businessmen, film celebrities and those belonging to lucrative professions have figured in the list for holding offshore assets in the tax haven nation.

"Participants from a number of countries including members of the OECD and the G-20 exchanged views on the Panama Papers and explored mechanisms for cooperation as necessary.

"Follow up will be ensured by each tax administration in accordance with its own domestic laws and regulations as well as information sharing agreements that governments have in place between them. The discussions are confidential and the OECD is not privy to any taxpayer specific information," the Secretariat of the OECD said in a statement here.

 

India was represented in the special one-day session by a senior official from the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), under the Union Finance Ministry.

India adheres to a number of OECD norms for strengthening overseas tax cooperation and exchange of information and at the first meeting of a specially constituted Multi-Agency Group (MAG) of probe agencies held in New Delhi last week it was decided to approach the global body along with another similar forum FATF for support in this regard.

The OECD said the special project meeting of the Joint International Tax Shelter Information and Collaboration (JITSIC) Network brought together senior tax administration officials from countries worldwide to "discuss opportunities for obtaining data, cooperation and information sharing in light of the 'Panama Papers' revelations."

JITSIC is a grouping of tax officials who exchange views, information and practises at an operational level. It is a network of the OECD Forum on Tax Administration.

 

The 'Panama Papers' revelations contain an unprecedented amount of information including over 11 million documents covering 210,000 companies in 21 offshore jurisdictions. Each transaction spans across a number of different jurisdictions and may involve multiple entities and individuals. 

After the names of Indians allegedly holding overseas accounts appeared, the government set up the MAG comprising officials from the RBI, Income Tax 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.

The names were released by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). The ICIJ added a disclaimer that there are also "legitimate uses for offshore companies".

Acting on this, the Indian IT department sent a detailed questionnaire to about 50 individuals and entities figuring in the list of those allegedly holding offshore assets in tax havens.