Some rich Indians and non-resident Indians (NRIs) are reportedly worried that information related to their investments and bank accounts in Seychelles have been leaked. The leak is feared to be similar to the Panama Papers exposé of the data from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.
Those who suspect a leak either hold directorial positions in shell companies in Seychelles or are shareholders in them, the Economic Times reported. They have sought legal assistance fearing that the income-tax department might start an investigation into the information revealed in the suspected leak, two tax consultants told ET.
"We have been alerted about a possible leak, similar to that in case of Mossack Fonseca. Most likely, activist hackers or disgruntled employees have fished out information from Fonseca's database on Seychelles," a senior tax professional said on condition of anonymity.
"We believe the information, which may have been collected earlier, could soon find its way into the public domain," he said.
However, the purported leaked information could be old and the individuals named in it might not be as famous, a lawyer said.
"It's unclear whether India can leverage its existing ties with Seychelles to extract information. Also, it's unlikely that too many big names and celebrities will be linked to Seychelles which, like Cyprus, has been also used by Russians. My guess is whatever information that emerges would be dated as money has already moved to places like Dubai," a lawyer said.
"Also, in some cases, the investments are legitimate even though the persons may not have declared them in 2012 (the year since when residents have to declare their overseas assets). But many investments would always evoke suspicion. Investments in Singapore or British Virgin Islands are understandable as these can be used to acquire properties and securities. Bank accounts, trusts and shareholdings in places like Panama, Liechtenstein and Seychelles, which figure in the OECD grey list, are often seen in a different light," a person having knowledge on the matter told ET.
A group of 400 journalists from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) analysed about 2.6 terabytes of data containing financial and legal records, which an anonymous person reportedly leaked to German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung.
The data contained over 11.5 million documents including 37,000 linked to India. The ICIJ published all the data on Monday and names of close to 2,000 individuals, entities and addresses from India have appeared in it.