The latest leak of the Panama Papers has revealed financial details and history of transactions relating to as many 12,000 Indians who have stashed away wealth in secret offshore tax havens.
Names of Indians who had not figured in the first part of the sensational expose have tumbled out in the latest leak. The details also show how indians who had stashed wealth in offshore havens reacted to the 2016 shock revelations.
The explosive document dump, known as 'Panama Papers: The Aftermath' has revealed the names of several of Indians including Amitabh Bachchan, Ajay Bijli, Kavin Bharti Mittal, Jalaj Ashwin Dani, Lokesh Sharma etc.
Shiv Khemka, Jehangir Sorabjee, K P Singh, Anurag Kejriwal, Navin Mehra and Hajra Iqbal Memon are also mentioned in the latest data dump as having confirmed links to offshore companies, the Indian Express reported.
Among the international luminaries mentioned in the latest Panama papers are football great Lionel Messi, Argentinean President Mauricio Macri and French jeweller Pierre Cartier.
The Aftermath documents have been released two years after the Panama Papers leak shocked the financial world in 2016 and exposed the shady offshore businesses of many of the world high and mighty.
As many as 12 lakh documents were analysed by the consortium of Investigative Journalists spearheaded by publications like German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung and the Indian Express.
The status of India's multi-agency probe into black money
India had formed a Multi-Agency Group (MAG) to investigate Indians who stashed wealth away in tax havens. The agency comprised officials from the Central Board of Direct Taxation (CBDT), Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and Enforcement Directorate (ED).
In further updates, under the MAG's investigation, searches have been held against 58 people implicated in the high profile tax evasion cases. Also, prosecution proceedings have been initiated against 16 of them.
With the names of more Indians cropping up in the Panama Papers 2.0 the tax authority and MAG have their job cut out.
CBDT update on investigation based on 2016 leaks
India has put under scrutiny as many as 426 people whose names appeared in the Panama Papers. The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) is spearheading the investigation. The Board has said that as of June 2018, Rs 1,088 crore of undisclosed income has been detected.
Frantic response of Indians after 2018 expose documented
The latest leaks give a sneak peek into how Indian account holders with Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca reacted after the initial expose in April 2016. One law from Mumbai, PP Shah and Associates, sent out a frantic email detailing the chaos back home.
The mail reads thus: "Huge turbulence is started in the financial world including India. We need to respond to the Indian authorities asap as they have initiated inquiries based on the leaked report and documents which we understand are by and large correct information and documents..."
Some Indian clients raised holdings after 2016 expose while other liquidated firms
The latest leaks show that some Indian clients of Mossack Fonseca shut down their operations after the original expose in 2016. One of the major account holders who liquidated their holdings was Kolkata businessman Shishir Bajoria.
Bajoria, who is also a BJP leader, initially claimed that inclusion of his name was a clerical mistake. Later he contacted Mossack Fonseca, requesting the firm to change the beneficial ownership of Haptic (BVI) Ltd. The company was liquidated later on.
Meanwhile, some other Indian clients decided to increase their holdings after the expose. Lokesh Sharma, owner of British Virgin Islands-based Mardi Gras Holdings, was one such, the Indian Express reported.
Amitabh Bachchan named director of three companies
Mossack Fonseca's letters sent to actor Amitabh Bachchan cite him as director of three companies - Lady Shipping Ltd, Treasure Shipping Ltd and Sea Bulk Shipping Company Ltd. The communiqué asks him to furnish details required as part of due diligence.
Bachchan, who is under scrutiny ever since the document leak in 2016, has denied links with offshore companies.
New names in the list from India
According to the expose, several Indians whose names hadn't cropped up in the 2016 leak, have appeared in the second list. The prominent names in this list are Ajay Bijli, owner of PVR cinemas, Kavin Bharti Mittal, CEO of Hike Messenger and son of Airtel's Sunil Mittal and Jalaj Ashwin Dani, son of Asian Paints promoter Ashwin Dani.
Amitabh Bachchan, KP Singh, others warned by Mossack Fonseca
These letters from Mossack Fonseca confirm several Indian's link with secret haven deposits. The most prominent name in the list is that of Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan.
Mossack Fonseca later on warned clients that they would resign as registered agent if legal requirements were not fulfilled in 90 days.
The other Indians who received such emails included SUN Group Vice Chairperson Shiv Khemka, DLF's KP Singh and politician Anurag Kejriwal.
Mossack Fonseca's letters to Indians revealed
The new documents reveal that Mossack Fonseca, the Panama company that handled secret accounts of the world's super-rich had contacted several Indians after the 2016 data dump that pulverised offshore havens the individuals who had hidden wealth abroad to evade taxes.
Letters asking their clients to furnish details and a warning that Mossack Fonseca will cease to be their registered agents unless such information was passed on provide vital proof for the links the Indian tycoons had with offshore companies.