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Tax information exchange pact with Panama on cards
June, 04th 2016

The Central Board of Direct Taxes, which is overseeing investigation in the leaked Panama papers listing at least 500 Indian entities, is trying to strike a tax information exchange agreement with the tax haven to receive more data than what has been revealed in the leaks from the law firm Mossack Fonseca.

A source said there has been no major headway in investigation in the Mossack Fonseca case so far as tax authorities have no evidence to rely on whether the entities disclosed in the list have any illegal business operations or possess any undisclosed income.

The government has entered into Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA) with many of the tax havens and countries believed to be favouritie for Indians for round-tripping their undisclosed income. The Income Tax department is hopeful of a similar pact with Panama soon to get the required information.

Earlier, the I-T department had sent notices to people who were found linked in the Panama list soon after it was disclosed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in mid-April. However, tax officials say it is difficult to ascertain who are running illegal business operations and involved in laundering money. The ICIJ list had names of at least 500 Indians, some of them prominent businessmen and film celebrities.
"A questionnaire was sent to all the Indian entities in April after the disclosure was made, but it would take at least an year to reach any conclusion," said a senior I-T official involved with the probe.

Soon after the list was disclosed, the finance ministry had set up a multi-agency group to probe the Mossack Fonseca case involving the I-T department, the RBI, Financial Intelligence Unit and the Enforcement Directorate.
There has been no information flow from Panama authority so far, said the official. The government is working on a bilateral agreement with the tax haven besides the TIEA to receive all suspicious transaction reports in future and banking data linked to Indians.

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