New Delhi, January 20, 2017

About 500 Indians figure in the list which includes prominent businessmen, film celebrities

India and 29 countries discussed their findings on investigations arising from the Panama Papers, including the role of tax intermediaries such as financial institutions and advisers in tax evasion.

The two-day meeting of the Joint International Taskforce on Shared Intelligence and Collaboration (JITSIC) in Paris saw revenue authorities of 30 countries sharing their best practices and information based on legal instruments under the tax treaties and OECD.

"30 Revenue Authorities shared their findings on investigations arising from the Panama Papers including the role of tax intermediaries such as financial institutions, advisers, who facilitate tax evasion," an official statement said.

The sharing of this information within a group of this size is unique and sets the basis for greater cooperation amongst tax administrations, it added.

The 'Panama Papers' leaks contain an unprecedented amount of information running into more than 11 million documents covering 2,10,000 companies in 21 offshore jurisdictions. The names were released by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

About 500 Indians figure in the list which includes prominent businessmen, film celebrities and those belonging to lucrative professions.

The government has created a Multi-Agency Group (MAG) of probe agencies, comprising the I-T department, the RBI, Financial Intelligence Unit and the Enforcement Directorate, to go into these cases.

Each transaction spans different jurisdictions and may involve multiple entities and individuals. While releasing the list, the ICIJ had added a disclaimer that there are also "legitimate uses for offshore companies".

The JITSIC brings together 36 of the world's national tax administrations that have committed to more effective and efficient ways to deal with tax avoidance.

It offers a platform to enable its members to actively collaborate within the legal framework of effective bilateral and multilateral conventions and tax information exchange agreements - sharing their experience, resources and expertise to tackle the issues they face in common.

Since the last JITSIC meeting, significant achievements have been made including the development of uniform approaches to requesting information between treaty partners, clearer understanding of the evasion typologies adapted by intermediaries, and new techniques for collating intelligence, the statement said.

JITSIC was originally established in 2004 as the Joint International Tax Shelter Information Centre to combat cross-border tax avoidance. Building on its initial achievements, the JITSIC was re-established in 2014 with many new members from across the FTA.

[The Business Standard]