Swiss accounts, a hogwash!

  • Better forget the list and money

  • Black money is a tool to blackmail

  • NDA is no different from UPA

  • Same businessmen control both dispensations

  • Most of the money exited the banks long back

(K Kaushik)

New Delhi, October 27: Don’t be overjoyed that all the black money that was stashed in the banks of Switzerland would come back to India. Don’t ever dream that all the names would be revealed and even if they were disclosed the persons who were so named would be ashamed. Don’t expect the government to be honest in this dishonest business. Even if the prime minister is none other than Narendra Modi, it is not going to make any difference.

Look at the names that were revealed. Pradip Burman. Chimanlal Lodhia and Radha Timblo and five others have been named. They are small fish. The big fish is at large. They are not likely to be caught.

The fact, the profile of 8 names of 3 organisations were named in an affidavit submitted by the NDA government in Supreme Court six years after the list reached the government speaks volumes about the intentions of the ruling class in India. The black money that was deposited in Switzerland banks was either brought back to India through different routes or shifted to some other safer havens.

The talk of getting back the black money from the banks in Switzerland started in 2006 when the Swiss National Bank disclosed that Indian national money worth Rs 41,400 crore was lying with banks in Switzerland. It was exactly at that time that the money started vanishing from the banks. Two years later, in 2008, the total was brought down to Rs 15,400 and by 2013 it was whittled down to Rs 14,000 crore. Which means bulk of the Indian money in banks in Switzerland was moved out between 2006 and 2013. Incidentally, UPA-1 &2 were in office during the whole period.

According to 2013 figures, the amount is about $2.25 billion. Chances are that the whole amount may be legal by now. Any money that was illegal was either shifted out of the banks through the help of tax department or invested in stock markets or real estate. No sensible person would allow his ill-gotten money to continue to lie with the Swiss banks knowing very well that his name is in the list of the depositors and the list is in the hands of the government.

A former employee of HSBC bank in Switzerland managed to smuggle the data from the banks and gave it to French government. The list allegedly contained 700 names. This knowledge has been in public domain since 2008 when the French government shared the date with the Indian government. Instead of divulging the names and shame the account-holders, the UPA government thought it fit to chase the account-holders to collect tax dues from them. Some of the account-holder might have struck a deal with Tax officials by agreeing to pay penalty.

Neither the UPA dispensation nor the present government would like to disclose the list since it is mostly likely to contain the names of the leaders of the Congress and the BJP and also the businessmen who are close to both the parties and have been funding both. That was why both Arun Jaitley, present finance minister, and Chidambaram, former finance minister, could exchange allegations and jokes in lighter vein. While Jaitley said the disclosure of the names would grievously harm the interests of the Congress party, Chidambaram alleged that the finance minister was indulging in blackmail in the name of black money. The Congress party spokesmen had dared the government to disclose the list if it could. This game goes on whoever is in power. Modi is, after all, no different.

Indian press, particularly the pink one, has been hinting at the possibility of some of the account-holders getting off the hook through Tax department. There were news items regarding a development in which the Tax officials in Mumbai said some voluntary disclosures were made by 17 account-holders. Some others might have invested in real estate either in Mumbai or Bangalore. It was in boom till a couple of years ago. Then we were informed by the police that huge quantities of gold were being confiscated from air passengers. The gold rush to India may have some connection to the exit of black money from Swiss banks. The route of over-invoicing in the name of exports might also have been made use of particularly in the last two years. Increased flow of FIIs may also have something to do with the black money reaching Indian markets.

If the government manages to lay its hands on the deposits left in the banks in Switzerland, the money may turn out to be perfectly legal since the account-holders have all the time in the world to take measures to turn black into while and illegal into legal.

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