On Tuesday, Income Tax (I-T) officials conducted searches at several locations associated with the real estate conglomerate Hiranandani Group. The searches included 24 locations in Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Chennai.
The tax agency is investigating the Group’s foreign assets as well as an undisclosed offshore investment in a trust. Last year, the Government of India directed that investigations into the Pandora Papers leaks be overseen by the Multi-Agency Group, chaired by the Chairman of the CBDT and comprised of representatives from the CBDT, ED, RBI, and the FIU. The Hiranandani organization made no comment on the I-T searches.
The premises searched, according to agency officials, were linked to the group’s founders, brothers Niranjan and Surendra Hiranandani. The tax officials did not immediately disclose whether any documents or digital evidence were seized during the searches conducted in connection with their investigation.
Per an investigation conducted by the International Consortium of International Journalists (ICIJ) in 2021, the group was named in the Pandora papers, which stated that the Hiranandani Group, as well as key members of Niranjan Hiranandani’s family, were beneficiaries of a Trust with assets worth more than $60 million USD.
The (ICIJ) claimed to have obtained a 2.94 terabyte data trove that allegedly revealed the offshore secrets of wealthy elites from over 200 countries and territories. The investigation was based on the disclosure of confidential records from 14 offshore service providers who provide professional services to wealthy individuals and corporations looking to incorporate shell companies, trusts, foundations, and other entities in low- or no-tax jurisdictions.
The Indian government had taken notice of these developments. To ensure effective investigation in these cases, the government also actively engaged with foreign jurisdictions to obtain information on relevant taxpayers/entities. The Government of India is also a member of an Inter-Governmental Group that promotes collaboration and knowledge sharing.