Swiss Leaks reveal 1,195 accounts of Indians in HSBC
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court-ordered investigation to recover black money stashed abroad received a fresh impetus when the Indian Express revealed names of 1,195 Indians holding accounts in HSBC Bank.
The names of 628 of them are already available with the Indian Government. They were shared with India by France after an employee of the bank leaked the data in 2011. Swiss Leaks, as the revelations came to be known, were a treasure trove of secret documents.
The fresh disclosures were made on Monday after a global investigation taken up jointly by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), the Paris-based Le Monde daily and the Indian Express. They have revealed names of thousands from 203 countries with a total balance of US $ 102.05 billion. The details of their accounts in Geneva and the balance in individual account in 2006-07 have now been published.
Among them are 1,195 Indian account holders. They the who’s who of Indian industry, politicians, diamond traders, Non-Resident Indians (NRIS), Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) and others. Not all these accounts are illegal because some have paid tax though under protest against what they called the “highhandedness” of the Income Tax Department while a few are non-resident Indians. About 60 of them are being prosecuted.
An emergency meeting of The Supreme Court appointed Special Investigation Team which includes retired judges has been convened to discuss the latest revelations. Reacting to the development Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told mediapersons that it was not the names that mattered since most of them were already available with the Government of India. “It is the evidence that we need (to bring the illegal account-holders to book”, he added.
It may be recalled that Mr. Narendra Modi had promised during his campaign for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections that the BJP would leave no stone unturned to bring to India thousands of black money amassed in foreign banks. Each Indian would get Rs. 15 lakh if the black money was repatriated from banks in Switzerland and other tax havens, he had said.