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Panama Papers expose rich Indians' tax dens; PM Modi announces probe

The Centre on Monday set up a multi-agency team to investigate alleged offshore holdings of about 500 Indians named by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). The probe was ordered after PM Narendra Modi discussed the issue with the finance minister.

Among the 500 Indians named for secret offshore dealings, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Amitabh Bachchan also find mention in documents recovered from Mossack Fonseca, a law firm based in tax haven Panama.

Many of the Indians featured in the list and who set up these offshore entities prior to 2013, are likely in violation of the Reserve Bank of India's Liberalized Remittance Scheme, which was introduced in February 2004, according to Business Standard report.

The investigation team will have officers from the Central Board of Direct Taxes' Financial Intelligence Unit, its Tax Research Unit and officials from the Reserve Bank of India.

The details of the Indians with such offshore funds were published in The Indian Express. But whether or not such funds exist, and also if they were illegal is what the team ordered by PM Modi is expected to look into.

In the past, based on the investigations by ICIJ in 2013 -- that showed the links of 700 Indians with business connection with off-shore entities -- the agencies of the government were able to identify 434 persons as Indian residents. 184 persons admitted their relationship with such off-shore entities/transactions.

This time, those named in the report were K.P. Singh of DLF, Sameer Gehlaut of India Bulls, Vinod Adani, elder brother of industrialist Gautam Adani, Anurag Kejriwal of Loksatta Party and politician Shishir Bajoria from West Bengal were also alleged to have set up companies in tax havens.