Govt to Address New Panama Papers Leak in ‘Reasonable Time’

The new leak consists over 1.2 million fresh documents, which includes over 12,000 documents pertaining to Indians.

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After fresh information from the ‘Panama Papers’ – that first created a global stir two years back – named several Indian clients, the Union Finance Ministry issued a statement on Thursday, 21 June, saying that the leak will be "addressed within a reasonable time frame."

The new leak from the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, investigated by The Indian Express in tandem with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung, consists over 1.2 million fresh documents, including over 12,000 documents pertaining to Indians.

Fresh release made in the media today under ‘Panama Paper Leaks’ is being promptly looked into by the Law Enforcement Agencies under the aegis of the Multi Agency Group (MAG) already constituted for facilitating coordinated and speedy investigation.
Ministry of Finance

The statement added, “investigations in appropriate cases would be carried-out to bring them to a logical conclusion.”

The New Leaks

The investigation has reportedly revealed how, following the 2016 expose, Mossack Fonseca hurriedly attempted to contact its clients through middlemen – lawyers, accountants, and bankers – who had set up offshore companies in tax havens. The firm was attempting to “close the gaps in record keeping,” Express reported.

The new documents also reportedly show that Mossack Fonseca could not identify over 70 percent of its clientele that it had registered, two months after Panama Papers had leaked.

Citing the records, the daily reported that the firm could not identify the owners of “more than 70 percent of 28,500 active companies in the British Islands… and 75 percent of 10,500 active shell companies in Panama it had registered.”

Further, the investigation has unearthed fresh reports on a new set of Indian clients who did not feature in the 2016 leak, while also confirming the links of many others who had denied any association in 2016, with the firm.

As far as the Indian clients are concerned, Mossack Fonseca reportedly sent notices in 2016 after the records were made public, asking them to produce missing information and disclose the beneficial owner wherever available and necessary.

The firm then served 90-day notices, stating that they would resign as the registered agent, as the companies “failed to meet legal due diligence requirements.”

In June, the founders of the firm, Jurgen Mossack and Ramon Fonseca, released a statement assuring that the firm, its employees and founders were “never involved in unlawful acts.”


Indian Businesses Named in the New Leak

The second batch of Panama Papers accessed by the English daily has named some big Indian businessmen whose names did not appear in the first batch. These include:

  • PVR owner Ajay Bijli and members of his family
  • Kavin Bharti Mittal, CEO of Hike Messenger and son of Sunil Mittal
  • Jalaj Ashwin Dani, son of Asian Paints promoter Ashwin Dani

In the first batch of leaked documents, the prominent Indian names that popped up were Amitabh Bachchan, Ajay Devgn, Supreme Court lawyer Harish Salve and real estate mogul KP Singh.

(With inputs from The Indian Express)

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