or at least 5 years, it has been 2ndlook position that corruption in India is a small problem. All those stories about trillions in Swiss accounts, turned out to be just hot air. Based on 2ndlook at some economic and business realities it was clear that these corruption-in-India claims were just plain flibbertigibbet.
Arvind Kejriwal, Anna-bhau take that. Eat crow now.
Now we have data.
Indians businessmen are a small part of this offshore mechanism. This data is broadly in line with the trend. For India, which is a Top-5 economy, to have so few people in the list proves two things.
One: Indian take on corruption is round-tripped back into India.
Two: Indians generally lack faith in these corporate structures – and would rather hand over money to their CAs, who will handle this for free.
Typically, specialist Indian CAs handle this money on a simple understanding. Only the principal will be returned – and actual investments at the instruction of the beneficiary, if any, will come back to the beneficiary. Otherwise all risks and benefits from the deployment of these funds will be the CAs take.
Three: Indians understand money much better – and can handle it themselves instead of saand-ka-tel (snake-oil) MNC salesmen.
In the next few days we will read and hear more. But on thing is clear. Indian Express will not be able to suppress it – as the same data can be released by other media houses in the rest of the world.
I presume in the next 2-3 months, this data will be publicly available – and data-scraping software will be used by others.
Here is the initial story.
In the biggest global expose of its kind on offshore investments and secret financial transactions, an international group of investigative journalists has found details of more than 1.2 lakh offshore entities and trusts belonging to individuals and companies in more than 170 countries and territories, including India.
These individuals and companies include politicians, the mega rich and tax offenders, among others, who have invested in tax havens such as the British Virgin Islands, the Cook Islands, Samoa and other offshore hideaways.
The 612 Indians in this list include two members of Parliament — Lok Sabha Congress MP Vivekanand Gaddam and RS member Vijay Mallya — and several industrialists such as Ravikant Ruia, Samir Modi, Chetan Burman, Abhey Kumar Oswal, Rahul Mammen Mappillai, Teja Raju, Saurabh Mittal and Vinod Doshi.
The list also includes businessmen who have had a brush with authorities such as the Income-Tax department and the CBI. Several of the offshore investments were made in possible violation of RBI and FEMA rules.
Details of these transactions were contained in 2.5 million secret files and accounted for more than 260 gigabytes of data. They were obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and their total size is more than 160 times larger than the leak of the US State Department documents by Wikileaks in 2010.
Based in Washington DC, ICIJ (www.icij.org) is an independent network of reporters who work together on cross-border investigations. ICIJ collaborated with 38 media organisations around the world, including the The Indian Express, for this ambitious global project and to analyse the documents. The other media partners include The Washington Post in the US, The Guardian and BBC in Britain, Le Monde in France and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
The 15-month long investigation has found that alongside perfectly legal transactions, the secrecy and lax oversight offered by the offshore world allows fraud, tax dodging and political corruption to thrive. The expose has also thrown light on the functioning of “nominee directors” in offshore companies, several of whom have also been engaged by Indian patrons of offshore companies.
For instance, a cluster of 28 “sham directors” have been identified as having served as the on-paper representatives of more than 21,000 companies between them, with some individual directors representing as many as 4,000 companies each. The expose comes shortly after a list of 18 Indians who had bank accounts in the LGT Liechtenstein Bank and around 700 Indians who had accounts in HSBC in Geneva became public. In both cases, account holders were prosecuted and paid penalties to Income-Tax authorities for deposits they had made abroad without paying taxes in India.
via Global media investigation finds 612 Indian firms in tax havens – Indian Express.