An RTI reply has said that the Centre’s Narendra Modi government made a considerable breakthrough on both identifying and punishing those who had stashed their illegal money outside India.
Confirming that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was indeed aware of the existence of 628 Indians holding accounts in HSBC bank in Switzerland, the RTI reply said that the central government had taken action in 409 cases.
In his RTI request, Ahmedabad resident, Parag Patel, had asked, “Please provide the information regarding PM Office of Prime Minister of India aware about list of 648 people who have Swiss bank accounts. Please provide the information regarding detailed report asked by PM office or Prime Minister of India regarding about list of 648 people who have Swiss bank accounts.”
The ministry of finance replied, “Information on 628 Indian persons holding bank accounts in HSBC bank in Switzerland was received from the government of France under Double Taxation Avoidance Convention (DTAC) between India and France. As a result of systematic investigations in these cases undisclosed income of about Rs 8,400 crore was brought to tax till 31st December 2016 in 409 cases (which included protective assessment in some cases.)
“Besides, concealment penalty of Rs 1287 crore was levied in 161 cases and 190 criminal prosecution complaints were filed in 77 cases till 31st January 2016.
Speaking to Janta Ka Reporter, Patel said, “During demonisation period, Delhi chief minister had said that there were about 648 Indian citizens holding black money in Swiss Bank. The RTI reply has confirmed the existence of these account. I’m pleased to know that the government of India has taken action against 409 black money holder out of 648.
The revelation has come after it was reported in April that India had approached Switzerland for banking details of at least ten persons and entities suspected to have kept untaxed money in Swiss banks.
These included two listed textile companies, while others were associated with an art curator and his carpet export business. Switzerland’s tax department issued notices to them last week to reply within 30 days to appeal the decision about providing ‘administrative assistance’ in information requests from India.
Under its local rules, Switzerland provides a final chance to the concerned persons and entities before sharing the information about suspected cases of tax crimes with any foreign jurisdiction.
These notices are made public through gazette notifications if they are not reachable directly by the concerned banks or the tax department. At least ten such notices concerning individuals and companies with Indian links were issued last week — which could be the highest for a country within a week. The notices named two listed textile firms — Neo Corporation International and SEL Manufacturing Company Ltd.
There are also some companies incorporated in tax havens like Panama and British Virgin Islands. Most of the companies and individuals are associated with a carpet export business and an art curator with operations across several countries. These are Abdul Rashid Mir, Amir Mir, Sabeha Mir, Mujeeb Mir and Tabassum Mir. The companies named in these notices include Cottage Industries Exposition, Modale SA and Progress Ventures Group. Some of these names had figured in the leaked Panama Papers too, but several of them including the two listed firms have denied any wrongdoing.
The individuals and companies about whom India has earlier sought information include some listed companies, former CEO of a real estate major, wife of a Delhi-based former bureaucrat, a Dubai-based Indian origin investment banker, a high-profile fugitive along with his wife and an UAE-based holding company, as also some Gujarati businessmen settled abroad and presumably in trading business.
(With additional inputs from PTI)