Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Take stringent steps against fraud and money laundering

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has rightly ordered for a probe into allegation of fraud and money laundering against Indian named in the infamous paper leaks as revealed by revelations made by Panama Papers. The Panama Papers have brought to light the shadowy world of offshore companies and how the rich and the famous hide their wealth from public view, with its first list of names including heads of state, celebrities, prominent businessmen and football stars. Spearheaded by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), and worked on by over 100 media organizations through the world, the leaks place a Panama-based law firm, Mossack Fonseca, at the centre of the tangled web of shell companies and paper trails. The promptness in ordering probe by the PM shows that he is serious about unearthing corrupt practices being carried out allegedly by Indians anywhere. But at the same time, he has to ensure that the probe into fraud and money laundering allegation against the Indians whose names have figured in the Panama papers leaks should not meet the same fate as his promise of bringing black money stashed in foreign banks allegedly by some Indians. PM had made this promise during the electioneering of the last Lok Sabha. Though he took the decision of constituting Special Investigation Team in his first Cabinet meeting to pave the way for bringing back black money after taking oath as PM, but what result it has yielded is all before us. Whichever names of Indians have figured in Panama paper leaks for alleged forgery and money laundering must be exposed and brought to book after thorough investigation. Though Panama papers have also faced severe criticism because there is no US name on the list of persons who have stashed money to hide it from public view, the figuring of Russian President Vladimir Putin is also seen as a conspiracy of the western powers. It is good for the nation that PM has taken tough stand in view of the leaks by Panama papers. The need of the hour for Narendra Modi govt. is to pursue expeditious investigation so that the Indians whose names have figured in Panama paper leaks should come out before the people. Mere ordering for probe can not serve the purpose. But at the same time the govt. should also not do anything only with a view to defaming its political opponents. A huge leak of confidential documents has revealed how the rich and powerful use tax havens to hide their wealth. Eleven million documents were leaked from one of the world's most secretive companies, Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. Its first fallout was seen here in India. Government has declared that action will be taken against "unlawful" accounts held abroad by Indians and constituted a multi­agency group to continuously monitor information. In the context of the commitment of the Central Government to bring out undisclosed it says that money both from abroad and from within the country, that information brought out by any investigative journalism is welcome.

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