New Delhi, March 27
At a time when Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has gone all out against the government over the alleged financial irregularities committed by the Adani Group, Minister of State (MoS) for Finance Pankaj Chaudhary informed the Rajya Sabha that the data regarding “offshore shell companies owned by Indian citizens are not available and an offshore shell company is not defined in the Acts administered by the Ministry of Finance”.
Govt concealing information: Congress
Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, reacting to government's reply in Parliament, tweeted, "June 8, 2018: Govt issues press release on activities of Task Force on Shell Companies calling them a 'menace'. March 21, 2023: Govt answers in Rajya Sabha that there is no definition of a shell company and that it has no information."
Replying to a written question asked recently by Rajya Sabha member John Brittas seeking on the details of offshore shell companies and their ultimate beneficial ownership (UBO), Chaudhary said: “It is submitted that an offshore shell company is not defined in the Acts administered by the Ministry of Finance. Data/details regarding offshore shell companies owned by Indian citizens are not available.”
Reacting to the Minister’s reply, senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh today tweeted, “June 8, 2018: Govt issues press release on activities of Task Force on Shell Companies calling them a ‘menace’. March 21, 2023: Govt answers in the Rajya Sabha that there is no definition of a shell company and that it has no information.”
“The amazing extent to which the Modi govt can go to conceal the patronage enjoyed by Adani. In June 2018, a task force to tackle the ‘menace’ of shell companies is announced. In Parliament, the government says it has no definition, hence no information on shell companies!” CPI(M)’s general secretary Sitaram Yechury tweeted.
In the press release on June 8, 2018, the government had said: “Task force on shell companies takes proactive and coordinated steps to check the menace of shell companies. During the financial year 2017-18, names of 2,26,166 companies identified and removed from ROCs (Registrar of Companies); 3,09,619 directors disqualified.”
However, the minister in his reply on March 21 this year said the government had undertaken a few exchanges of information mechanisms for the administration of taxation and enforcement laws for various purposes, which may include offshore companies.
On the question relating to the government’s action taken against those Indian citizens whose names were revealed through Panama Papers, Pandora Papers, Paradise Papers and other leaks, the minister said that more than 250 India-linked entities had been identified in Pandora Paper leaks. It also stated that undisclosed income of more than Rs 13,800 crore had been brought to tax (as on December 31, 2022) under the Panama and Paradise paper leak cases.
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