Panama Papers Leak: Minister of the Central American state confirms support to India's investigation

Panama Papers Leak

Panama is ready to help India investigate the 2016 Panama Papers leak that involved the identities of several Indian celebrities and businessmen.

Panama Foreign Minister Janaina Tewaney said in an interview with TOI that her country is ready to exchange information with India and inform the Indian authorities about the progress it has made in improving the transparency of its financial system.

Appreciating India's campaign against black money, the minister said he briefed his counterpart S Jaishankar about it in a meeting earlier this week. This is the first public confirmation by a high-level political force in Panama of cooperation in the Indian investigations, in which the government says it found 20,353 billion rupees in encrypted loans in Panama and the Paradise Papers leak.

Tewaney, who is of Indian origin, is a special guest of the Pravasi Bhartiya diva in India. He also represented his country at the Voice of the Global South Forum.

"For us, information sharing is now part of our reality. We are trying to meet standards of transparency that even developed countries do not. We are ready to share information and as I conveyed to Minister Jaishankar, we are also ready to inform the Indian government of our efforts to ensure transparency," TOI quoted Tewaney as saying.

Although Panama already communicates with other countries at a "technical level", the minister emphasized the importance of informing his colleagues at the political level about the activities of his country, which is still on the enhanced watch list of the FATF.

The FATF wants Panama to establish effective systems to monitor the activities of foreign companies and demonstrate its ability to investigate and prosecute money laundering related to foreign tax crimes.

He also promised to call on member states to be more cautious in their economic relations with Panama if the Central American country does not complete its action plan by February 2023.

After the 2016 leak, India organized a multi-agency commission consisting of officials from CBDT, the Enforcement Directorate, FIU, and the Reserve Bank of India to investigate accounts linked to Indian nationals.

In December 2021, the government informed Parliament that by October 1, 2021, the Panama Papers and Paradise Papers had found a total of 20,353 million rupees in hidden loans to 930 India-linked organizations.

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