Monday, 30th October 2017

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Lens on trusts in tax havens

Indian govt sought assistance from Swiss on these entities

By PTI in New Delhi and Berne
  • Published 6.01.20, 5:11 AM
  • Updated 6.01.20, 5:11 AM
  • a min read
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Trusts linked to Indian entities in tax havens have stashed cash in Swiss banks (Shutterstock)

A number of trusts set up in overseas tax havens using a complex maze of entities have come under the scanner of Indian and Swiss authorities for suspected tax evasion.

According to the notices issued to the entities, the trusts have parked illicit funds in Switzerland-based banks.

Several individuals who are suspected to have moved abroad after evading taxes back in India are also being probed and their banking details are in the process of being shared by the Swiss authorities with their Indian counterparts.

As per the notices published in Switzerland's federal gazette over the past one month, these individuals, including some businessmen, as also trusts based in Cayman Islands and companies have been asked to appoint their nominees in case they want to appeal against sharing of their banking details with India.

Trusts, especially those set up in jurisdictions such as Cayman Islands, Panama and British Virgin Islands, have often been seen as routes to evade taxes. Those named in these notices include businessman Atul Punj, Gautam Khaitan, Satish Kalra, Vinod Kumar Khanna, Dullabhbhai Kunverji Vaghela, Revaben Dullabhai Kunverji Vaghela and Balwantkumar Dullababhai Vaghela. Khaitan is an accused in the Agusta-Westland chopper scam.

The Cayman Islands-based trusts named in such notices include The P Devi Children's Trust, The P Devi Trust, and The Agarwal Family Trust

Similar notices have been issued in the names of Cayman-based Devi Limited and India-based Aadhi Enterprises Pvt Limited. Some of these entities are suspected to have been used by politicians to park their illicit wealth.

These notices have been issued after India’s request for “administrative assistance” in probes into each of the case and are different from the automatic exchange of information framework that has become effective between India and Switzerland since last year.