Answering questions over the fate of Panama papers, the government on Thursday said every account named in the leak is being probed but made it clear that nobody would be punished here without a proper process, unlike Pakistan where Nawaz Sharif was removed as Prime Minister.
“Nobody has ever taken more action than this government on foreign account details which have come,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said in the Rajya Sabha while replying to a debate on Banking Regulation (Amendment) Bill which was passed by the House later.
Referring to the Panama papers leak, he said “every account” in it is being investigated.
“We have a rule of law. We do not have system like the neighbouring country where you remove first and then have a trial,” Jaitley said, clearly referring to Sharif who was ousted last month over the Panama papers leak issue.
Sharif had to resign after the Pakistan Supreme Court disqualified him from holding public office and ruled that graft cases be filed against him and his children over the Panama papers scandal.
In the wake of that development, questions were raised here regarding the status of probe in the same issue.
During the reply, Jaitley said tax authorities are conducting investigations and prosecutions are being launched in cases where documents have been received.
“We first make our own investigations and on each one of those cases, whether it is Liechtenstein cases or HSBC cases or other cases which have come to the notice or the Panama, in each case, we have been touch with the regular authorities of the country where these accounts are,” he said.
“Prosecutions are being filed wherever documents are coming. Assessment proceedings are being cleared and there is no prohibition on publishing their names once the prosecutions are filed because they are filed in India in open court,” the finance minister said.
Jaitley said names are confidential as long as the matter is under investigation but the confidentiality clause ceases to exist once it reaches court.
Dubbed as ‘Panama Papers’, investigations into vast stash of records from Panamanian legal firm Mossack Fonseca by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalist had named several world leaders and celebrities as having money stashed abroad in offshore companies. The leak had surfaced last year.
India has finally launched investigations on citizens whose names came out in the leak, including film-star Amitabh Bachchan. Reports have came out that investigative agencies are seeking information from various countries and an officer has been sent to the British Virgin Islands, where this whole case is focused on.
“Then we will analyse and see if there are any violations,” a source said.
As of now, I-T has launched 33 prosecutions linked to the case.
-Inputs from PTI