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Multi-Agency Group cracks down on wealthy Indians named in Pandora Papers

ANI | Updated: Apr 07, 2022 15:02 IST

By Shailesh Yadav
New Delhi [India], April 7 (ANI): The Multi-Agency Group, which has been set up by the government to monitor investigations into the Pandora Papers case, has started cracking down on the wealthy Indians named in the investigative report.
Three entities named in Pandora Papers have been searched by the Income Tax Department and more will soon face action, official sources told ANI.
JCT Group's Samir Thapar, who is also a relative of late congress leader Satish Sharma and Hiranandani Group was searched by Foreign Asset Investigation Unit (FIAU) last month.
FIAU was created last year to probe cases of undisclosed assets held by Indians abroad and possession of Black Money in foreign shores. Last Month ANI had reported that FIAU has searched family members and associates of Satish Sharma. Officials told that FIAU has got credible information of undisclosed foreign assets and black money stashed abroad by wealthy Indians.
International Consortium of International Journalist (ICIJ) in an investigative report released in October 2021 claimed that 380 Indians are in list of global elite who has been exposed for ring-fencing their wealth through the shadowy financial transaction and using offshore tax heavens to hide assets worth millions of dollars.
The Pandora Papers revealed that former Union Minister Satish Sharma had several offshore entities and properties in his name. Sharma had died last year. At least 10 close relatives of Sharma including his wife Sterre Sharma, children and grandchildren are among the beneficiaries of the Jan Zegers Trust set up by Sharma in 1995 in Cayman Islands.

Hiranandani group was the latest to bear the brunt of IT dept. FIAU searched around 25 premises located in 3 cities--Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, related to Hiranandani Group. Later the company spokesperson told, "The group has already clarified that the offshore trust/assets held by the family abroad is fully bonafide and compliant with all laws. Further, all queries of the authorities are being fully addressed and we assure our full cooperation in the matter."
Realty sector businessman and founder of Mumbai-based Hiranandani Group Niranjan Hiranandani and some of his family members were beneficiaries of a Trust with assets worth over USD 60 million, as reported by ICIJ. Pandora Papers shows that Hiranandani was the "reserve director" in firms set up by his Dubai-based son Darshan Hiranandani in the British Virgin Islands (BVI).
Name of the Samir Thapar, Chairman, JCT Ltd surfaced in the Pandora Papers. Notably, JCT Ltd had declared the offshore stakeholder as a non-promoter. This offshore entity is registered in the British Virgin Islands, where Thapar is also the beneficial owner of another company. The offshore stakeholder Musk Holdings was set up in 2009 and has a stake in JCT Ltd.
Multi Agency Group which was constituted after the more than 300 wealthy Indians, including business people names figured in Pandora Paper leaks last year. After the three meetings of MAG held in North Block it was decided to launch action against the businessman named in Pandora Papers.
MAG headed by the Chairman of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) monitoring investigations into the Pandora Papers case. MAG having representatives from CBDT, ED, RBI & FIU.
Sources told that MAG proactively engaged with foreign jurisdictions for obtaining information in respect of relevant taxpayers/entities before going for search. MAG sought information from countries concerned on Indian entities named in Pandora Papers through Automatic Exchange of Information (AEIO).
India has AEOI relationship with 96 countries including British Virgin Islands (BVI) and Bahamas where wealthy Indians had stashed their money. (ANI)