Panama papers: IT dept opens probe into tax returns of industry majors

  • Jeevan Prakash Sharma, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Apr 27, 2016 00:56 IST
The Income Tax (I-T) department started looking into the financial activities of corporate lobbyist Niira Radia among other industry majors. (Mohd Zakir/HT File Photo)

Beginning its action on the Panama Papers revelations, the income tax (I-T) department on Tuesday started looking into the financial activities of corporate lobbyist Niira Radia, Delhi-based businessman Satya Prakash Gupta and husband-wife duo Nimitt Rai Tiwari and Ankita Sehgal, all of whom have been named in the leak.

The I-T department also issued summons to Oberoi group promoter Prithvi Raj Singh Oberoi, businessman SK Modi and MD of Twenty First Century Media Private Ltd Lokesh Sharma.

After the Panama Papers leak — that disclosed names of prominent people across the globe who have allegedly set up off-shore companies — the Narendra Modi-led Central government decided to act against Indians whose names appeared in the leak by issuing summons and conducting surveys.

While Radia has been named as a director of a shell company in British Virgin Islands, Gupta allegedly set up Sterling Global Partners Limited in the UAE. The husband-wife duo of Tiwari and Sehgal allegedly own Suncell Holding SA incorporated in the British Virgin Islands.

Oberoi Group allegedly kept secret the name of its off-shore company in Bahamas. The Panama Papers, as reported, show SK Modi heading an offshore company Challenge Soccer Ltd in British Virgin Islands. Sharma, too, has been named for operating his business by setting up entities in tax heavens.

Sources said the setting up and running of these companies was never revealed by their promoters in their income tax returns.

The department, which has sent its reports to the Prime Minister’s Office and special investigation team on black money, has given a clean chit to some prominent people like DLF chairman KP Singh, Supreme Court lawyer Harish Salve and founder of Indiabulls, Sameer Gehlaut.

“These people have disclosed the name of their companies in the annual returns filed with the I-T department. But, it seems that others have deliberately concealed names of multiple off-shore entities in their financial statements,” said a finance ministry source.

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