The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has attached a Delhi-based jewellery group's Rs 7 crore bank deposits, the amount equivalent to the value of alleged assets stashed abroad, in connection with its probe into the Panama Papers case.
It was the first action by the ED against alleged illegal accumulation of assets abroad after the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) was amended recently to empower it to act in such cases.
The central probe agency said in a statement that the seized funds "relate to A K Mehra, Deepak Mehra, Shalini Mehra and Naveen Mehra of Mehrasons Jewellers of Delhi".
The Rs 7 crore funds are lying in various bank accounts in the country.
Through the recent changes in the FEMA, the ED was empowered to seize equivalent property in India, if there is a suspicion that any forex, foreign security or any immovable property located outside India is held in contravention of the Act.
This section or amendment was brought in FEMA in 2015 as part of the Union government's strategy to combat black money stashed abroad.
"In the matter of Panama leaks, during the course of investigation, it was found that huge amounts were sent out of India by mis-utilising the scheme of liberalised remittance scheme (LRS) of the RBI in the garb of making investments abroad by the Mehras of Mehrasons Jewellers of Delhi.
"The amount remitted outside India was given as interest free loan in individual capacity by the persons to two companies in the British Virgin Islands and later on transferred to a company in the UAE which is owned by one of the persons," the ED said.
The agency said, at present, around Rs 10.54 crore is still "parked outside India illegally by the persons".
The jewellery group has at least four showrooms in popular market areas in the national capital.
"Further investigation is in progress," it said.
There are about 500 Indians named in the Panama Papers list which include prominent businessmen, film celebrities and those belonging to lucrative professions.
These names, along with those from other parts of the globe, were released by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) a few years ago.
The government had subsequently created a multi-agency group (MAG) of probe agencies to go into these cases, comprising the I-T department (CBDT), its foreign tax wing, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), financial intelligence unit and the ED.