The inability of BVI officials to furnish the requisite documents could also stall the efforts of tax sleuths who are concurrently probing those named in the Panama and Paradise leaks.
The Income Tax department of the British Virgin Islands (BVI) has informed its Indian counterpart that it cannot provide information on Indians with off-shore investments on its territory, citing destruction of files due to floods in August 2017.
The BVI, Britain's ovserseas territory in the Caribbean, is among the top five tax havens in the world. According to a Business Standard report, the tax department of the BVI conveyed to its Indian counterpart that files pertaining to an ongoing investigation into tax evasion have either been destroyed in the floods that ravaged the littoral nation in August, or have been lost.
"A team from the tax department has visited BVI authorities in investigations of the BVI leaks of 2013 to discuss the way out, bu no concrete solution has been drawn," an IT source told the paper. The source added that the authorities in BVI were not in a position to retrieve the lost data.
According to sources cited by the report, this will affect the investigation in the BVI leak case, wherein 612 Indian names were listed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. The inability of BVI officials to furnish the requisite documents could also stall the efforts of tax sleuths who are concurrently probing those named in the Panama and Paradise leaks.
Indian authorities had requested for information earlier this year from BVI and four other jurisdictions to establish tax evasion, money laundering and layering of funds, to and from India.
Another tax official told the paper that the department had sent "exhaustive queries to all the five tax heavens."
"The information sought was mostly about the actionable cases where there was a high chance of tax evasion by using various illegal methods," the official told the newspaper. "Of the actionable cases of foreign offshore investments, the majority were with the BVI. Hundreds of individual Indians figuring on the list had direct and indirect links with BVI entities," the official added.According to the report, tax authorities in India have established unaccountable wealth worth Rs 110 billion in the 2013 BVI leaks. The prosecution has been initiated in 20-odd cases.