NEW DELHI(PTI): The multi-agency group, set up to probe offshore accounts disclosed in Panama Papers, is analysing each and every account and those having illegal holdings will not “get sleep at night”, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has said.
Panama Papers this week disclosed a list of nearly 500 Indians including celebrities and industrialists who allegedly stashed money in offshore entities in Panama, considered to be a tax haven.
“Now these Panama names have come into the limelight. In last three days, we have formed a group. We are analysing each and every account to find which is legal and which is illegal,” he told ETV.
In a stern warning, Jaitley said, “Those who are having legal accounts, they need not worry and those having illegal accounts won’t get sleep at night.”
Soon after the names of Indians holding overseas account appeared in the leaks, the government set up a group comprising of officials from the RBI, I-T Department, Financial Intelligence Unit and Foreign Tax and Tax Research to investigate whether the money deposited in the tax heaven are legal or illegal.
“Those people who have kept it illegally, we will try to detect it fully. And I think that soon every thing will be made clear,” Jaitley said.
RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan had said on Tuesday that the multi-agency probe will look into the legitimacy of such holdings of Indians named in the leaked Panama list.
It is important to note that there are legitimate reasons to have accounts outside and the LRS scheme allows you to take money outside, Rajan had said.
Under the Liberalised Remittance Scheme (LRS), all resident individuals, including minors, are allowed to freely remit up to $2,50,000 per financial year for any permissible current or capital account transaction or a combination of both.
Rejecting criticism that BJP government has not pursued its pre-poll promise of going after black money, the Finance Minister said, “The people who are angry with me are so, just because I am going very strict.”
Jaitley said that while the Congress-led government did nothing on accounts revealed in the Liechtenstein list, the BJP government has investigated, assessed and undertaken criminal proceedings against one and all the accused.
“Taxes are being collected and criminal proceedings going on,” he said, adding that 500-525 people out of the 628 HSBC accounts have been traced and assessment orders passed.
“Criminal cases have been filed against around 150 persons,” he said.
Out of the third list of accounts revealed by International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, assessments are being done and 52 prosecutions have been filed till now.
On domestic black money, Jaitley said people are protesting because he has made PAN card mandatory for any spending of more than Rs 2 lakh. “Due to this black money is contracting.”
He added: “Now just imagine that if all the black economy turns into white and people start paying taxes then it will help government in betterment…such as education, healthcare, infrastructure, rural roads, rural irrigation because govt can’t spend all its money on salaries.
“It has to think about development of the country too. So people who are having black money are also compromising with nation’s development because the tax component of that money should have been used for the development.”