Industry needs to be more transparent and credible: Jaitley

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New Delhi, April 4 (IANS) As “Panama Papers” expose the world’s most prominent people engaging in murky deals, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday told the Indian industry to become more “transparent and credible” in its functioning.

“With the G20 (countries’ new global transparency standard) and FATCA (the US’ Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act) coming into place, the world is going to be a far more transparent place,” Jaitley said, inaugurating the annual session here of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

“The world is becoming one where adventurism, like in the past, is going to be increasingly a risky proposition,” he added.

“Panama Papers” refer to a new investigation published on Sunday by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and more than 100 other news organisations, revealing the offshore links of some of the planet’s most prominent people, including many from India.

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“In terms of size, the Panama Papers is likely the biggest leak of inside information in history — more than 11.5 million documents — and it is equally likely to be one of the most explosive in the nature of its revelations,” the consortium said.

The files contain new details about major scandals ranging from England’s infamous gold heist, an unfolding political money laundering affair in Brazil and bribery allegations convulsing FIFA, the body that governs world soccer.

Last year, India signed the Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters under the Common Reporting Standard multilateral agreement to automatically exchange financial information.

At the G20 nations’ Australia summit in 2014, leaders endorsed a new global transparency standard by which more than 90 jurisdictions would begin automatic exchange of tax information, using a common reporting standard by 2017-18.

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The deal will allow the countries to extract bank details for future and also make available account balance information of the past five to six years upon request.

Indian officials have said the tax department is now more actively pursuing penalties and prosecutions with better access to information allowed by FATCA and the taxation agreements with 96 countries.

FATCA is a US federal law whose intent is to enforce the requirement for U.S. persons (including those living outside the U.S.) to file yearly reports on their non-US financial accounts to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FINCEN).

Reminding the audience about the compliance window he had opened last year for Indians to declare their illegal assets abroad, which he said had “been availed by many, while some also did not,” Jaitley urged Indian industry to move towards greater transparency.

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“Industry is fighting a major battle for its credibility and some recent events have added to that,” he said.

“The essence of industry has to be transparency and credibility… The approach of industry leaders has to be positive and credible,” he added.

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