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India calls out Britain for continuing to harbor its financial criminals

India calls out Britain for continuing to harbor its financial criminals
Several countries, including the United Kingdom, have been offering safe havens to economic offenders from India “through investment-based schemes,” according to India’s finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

Speaking at the G20 finance ministers meeting in Japan, she called for a mechanism for international cooperation to be put in place. According to Sitharaman, in recent years the UK has emerged as a favorite haunt for India’s economic fugitives.

“(The) finance minister drew attention to the practice permitted by many jurisdictions, which allow economic offenders to use investment-based schemes to obtain residence or citizenship to escape from legal consequences and underlined the need to deal with such practices,” Sitharaman was quoted as saying by the ministry’s website.

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“[The] FM urged that closer collaboration and coordinated action were required to bring such economic offenders to face the law.”

The issue of economic fugitives was raised by India last year at the G20 level. As a result an international agreement was signed for better data flow and tighter regulatory regime on tax avoidance.

About 90 tax jurisdictions have started automatically to exchange financial account information (AEOI) on a global basis. The move is expected to ensure that tax evaders can’t hide their offshore financial accounts from tax administration.

“Appropriate action needs to be taken against non-compliant jurisdictions. She (FM) called upon the international community to agree on a toolkit of defensive measures, which can be taken against such non-compliant jurisdictions,” the statement from the ministry said.

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Sitharaman also talked about tax challenges linked to the digitalization of the country’s economy. She wondered if the accumulation of cash reserves by large companies indicated the reluctance of those companies to increase investments. “This reluctance could have adverse implications on growth and investments and possibly leading to concentration of market power,” she warned.

Over the last five years, the Indian government has succeeded in bringing back 18 financial fugitives to face justice.

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