Rahul attacks govt on Cyprus' 'golden passport' scheme, asks why brothers of 'param mitra' left country in 'Amrit Kaal'

Rahul attacks govt on Cyprus' 'golden passport' scheme, asks why brothers of 'param mitra' left country in 'Amrit Kaal'

New Delhi, Nov 15 (PTI) Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday questioned why the brothers of the 'param mitra' left India during 'Amrit Kaal' after reports that some businessmen, including Gautam Adani's elder brother Vinod Adani, were among the 66 Indians who got the 'golden passport' in Cyprus.

'Why did the brothers of the 'param mitra' leave India during 'Amrit Kaal'? 'Golden passport' means a golden opportunity for theft -- steal public money, form a shell company and spend abroad,' Gandhi said in a post in Hindi on X.

He said this following media reports that Vinod Adani and Pankaj Oswal were among the 66 Indians who got the 'golden passport'. The 'golden passport' scheme was also called the 'Cyprus Investment Programme' after it was introduced in 2007 and it facilitated the grant of Cypriot citizenship to financially prominent individuals, thereby bringing in foreign direct investments (FDI) into the country.

Ruling Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) IT cell in-charge Amit Malviya hit back at Gandhi, saying it was under the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government that the India-Cyprus tax treaty created a haven for tax evaders.

'You practically rolled out the red carpet for investors to bypass Capital Gains tax, with Cyprus not imposing such taxes either. Add to that the low withholding tax rate, and you have got yourself a perfect recipe for creating a tax haven, luring businesses and individuals to funnel money into Cyprus.

'But when the BJP led NDA came into power, we saw through this charade and took immediate, decisive action. In 2016, we didn't just tweak the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) with Cyprus; we overhauled it. Our revision, effective retrospectively from, Nov 2013, was a game-changer. It shifted the taxation of capital gains right back to where the income is made -- the source country -- rather than letting investors hide behind the veil of their country of residence. This wasn't just a policy shift; it was a direct challenge to the tax avoidance circus you had running,' Malviya claimed in a post on X.

Responding to Gandhi's post on the microblogging website, he said, 'Let's talk about the grandfathering clause we introduced for investments made before April 1, 2017. It wasn't just a clause; it was a statement. We ensured a fair transition to the new regime, where capital gains would be taxed in the investor's country of residence for investments made before this deadline.' 'This shift was monumental. It wasn't just about fair taxation; it slammed the door shut on using offshore entities for tax evasion. The so-called 'Golden Passport' that you accuse us of promoting? It's a relic of your governance, a symbol of the opaque, underhand dealings you endorsed,' he said.

'So, let us set the record straight. Those who have left are your 'Param Mitras'. Their departure is on you. Your legacy of promoting tax havens and opaque financial practices is what drove them out. Our reforms have not only plugged these gaps but have showcased our unwavering commitment to transparent and accountable tax governance. Your accusations don't just fall flat; they're a stark reminder of your party's dubious past,' Malviya claimed. PTI SKC RC

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