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Income Tax Department has begun enquiry into firms running from tax havens
August, 14th 2013

The Income Tax Department has initiated enquiries on the issue of Indian entities operating from tax havens as stated by International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), Parliament was informed today.

"Income Tax authorities have started enquiries into the matter," Minister of State for Finance Jesudasu Seelam said in a written reply to Rajya Sabha.

Such enquiries include taking up the matter with competent foreign authorities to obtain information relevant for the investigation, he said, adding, further action under direct taxes would follow on completion of such enquiries.

ICIJ had recently uploaded information on its website icij.org, inter alia, containing particulars of certain entities including trusts, fund companies created in offshore locations such as British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands etc, the Minister said.

Such information contains particulars of 498 Indian addresses with names etc, who prima facie appear to be connected with some of the offshore entities, he added.

The information available on the website of ICIJ does not reveal particulars of financial transactions of the offshore entities or Indian persons, the Minister said.

Seelam also said the list contains two names which are also the names of two Members of Parliament.

During the enquiries, he said, one of the MPs has denied having any relationship with the entity named against his name on the website of ICIJ.

The other MP stated that without prejudice to his being a 'Non-Resident' from Assessment Year 2005-06 onwards, he is not required or obliged to furnish details relating to his overseas business interest and bank accounts, he said.

The company mentioned against his name on the website of ICIJ was struck off from the register of the Registry in the year 2010, the Minister said.

In reply to a separate question, Seelam said no real estate company has been found guilty of money laundering or contravention of FEMA during the last 3 years.

"A show cause notice for the contravention of relevant provisions of FEMA 1999, has been issued to Emaar MGF Land Ltd on June 6, 2013, " he said.

The amount involved in the alleged contravention is Rs 8,600.80 crore, he said.

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