Hours after the Paradise papers opened a can of worms again after the Panama Papers last year, sources have revealed that Amitabh Bachchan might not have committed anything wrong to face such a media trial in India. Mr Bachchan is in the eye of the storm as his name is common to both the investigations. Big B is already being investigated in Panama Paper leaks and he (along with Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan) have submitted documents regarding the same.
Sources say that there has been no fresh development from the Enforcement Directorate (ED) since Big B submitted the financial documents through his representative. Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan (also named in the Panama papers) submitted her documents on the same day. ED is yet to determine any impropriety in both their name and sources say that they haven't passed any memo till now where they have detected any wrongdoing on both their parts. "He can only be prosecuted if he has stashed black money abroad without paying taxes in India. Unless he has done that, there is no way we can say Mr Bachchan is wrong. All I can tell you now is that if there was any financial bungling on behalf of Mr Bachchan, he would have received a notice by now. That he hasn't, speaks volumes about his innocence," said a source in the Mumbai Police who's in the know of the investigations.
Mr Bachchan too has penned an emotional blog where he says that he has been hounded for long for scandals like Bofors etc where he has proven himself innocent. Mr Bachchan has hinted that he has put on trial by the media without any wrongdoing on his part. Sources in the Mumbai police say that even if it is found that Mr Bachchan has invested money or parked money in tax havens abroad, it is not necessarily true that he has broken the law. Several websites have also recorded that putting your money in offshore accounts doesn't necessarily mean that it is black money. "There are legal ways of parking your money to save tax. You can legally park your money to save tax in India and the Indian government has allowed that in some cases or there is no law saying that you cannot. So, it is highly probable that some of the money that the Paradise Papers have traced might not be illegal at all. Mr Bachchan is very particular about documentation. We think the media is unnecessarily sensationalising the case because he is innocent," the source added.
Initial probe has suggested so far that there is no wrongdoing on Mr Bachchan's part and sources suggest that unless black money is detected, the authorities are not planning to harass Mr Bachchan, who is a well-known brand ambassador of the country. The ED so far hasn't issued any directive so far specifying that Mr Bachchan is under investigation. However, a team is being constituted to investigate the Paradise Paper leaks in totality. The same is the case of Maanyata Dutt, she has already clarified that she has paid due tax. Her spokesperson has clarified that her name being there on the list doesn't mean that she is guilty. Two years back, Mahima Chowdhury was also named in the famous Swiss Paper leak where it was found that she has a Swiss Bank account. However, it was later found that there was not enough evidence of wrong doing against her, as sources confirmed that there was not enough money there to raise eyebrows. The authorities even clarified then that having a Swiss Bank account is NOT illegal in India, there have been no illegal transactions.
Anybody in India or abroad can open a Swiss Bank account according to Business Standard. It is not illegal for Indians to open accounts in a Swiss bank if the money is remitted through official channels. While legally an account with a Swiss bank cannot be opened online, a customer does not necessarily need to travel to Switzerland to do so. It can be opened through an exchange of correspondence between the bank and the client, although most banks prefer to meet their customers face-to-face for an initial discussion.
“Typically, a representative from the local office or a relationship manager from overseas will visit the customer and collect the necessary documents. You don’t have to travel abroad to open your account,” says a senior official with a private wealth management firm. And, as Kejriwal says, the depositor also doesn’t need to travel abroad to operate it. A phone call to the bank is enough to deposit or withdraw money; the bank provides doorstep services to collect or deliver cash.