MUMBAI, India -- A cat-and-mouse game is about to begin between Indian tax authorities and wealthy individuals who find their names in the public domain for allegedly forming companies in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) to stash away undisclosed assets, the Economic Times reported.
Following a claim that the BVI data was stolen, individuals that have come under the scrutiny of the Indian authorities may escape prosecution, as stolen information carries little legitimacy in court proceedings.
"This is the stance they are taking. Courts are unlikely to accept stolen data and invoking the treaty with BVI too becomes difficult. The treaty has no scope for fishing expeditions," said a senior tax professional and an expert on offshore trust matters.
According to the Economic Times, only specific information about individuals or companies that are under investigation can be shared.
While these individuals in the BVI list have come under scrutiny, the very investigation is based on stolen data, the tax expert said.
On April 1, the Economic Times reported that tax officials suspected many Indian residents of holding shares in BVI companies, and the shares were bought well before the Reserve Bank of India announced a liberalised remittance scheme for buying shares in companies abroad.
On April 4, The Indian Express reported the findings of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and named some of the Indians connected to BVI entities.
On June 14, the consortium released information about 100,000 secret companies, trusts and funds in offshore hideaways.