The Special Investigation Team (SIT) set up by the Supreme Court to trace black money stashed abroad has asked three government agencies to prepare a report on allegations that over 500 Indians used a law firm in Panama to set up offshore entities in tax havens across the world.
Retired Supreme Court judge Arijit Pasayat, who is the vice-chairman of the SIT, told Hindustan Times that media reports on 1.5 million documents leaked from the files of Mossack Fonseca, a law firm based in the tax haven of Panama, need to be “verified” by the Enforcement Directorate, the Income Tax Department and the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence.
“I have asked ED, Income Tax Department and the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence to look into the Panama paper leak and present a report” said Pasayat.
“These are media reports, we need to verify them and see if a probe is required” said Pasayat.
“We cannot mount a probe without the documents coming to the Indian government through a formal channel,” he said.
The SIT is empowered to request the finance ministry to get information from foreign countries on Indians mentioned in the so-called Panama Papers expose. But that will happen only if the SIT is convinced of a need for investigation.
An international coalition of media outlets on Sunday published what it said was an extensive investigation into the offshore financial dealings of the rich and famous, based on a vast trove of documents provided by an anonymous source.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalism, a non-profit organization based in Washington, said the cache of records detailed the offshore holdings of a dozen current and former world leaders, as well as businessmen, criminals, celebrities and sports stars.