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Kejriwal attacks Ambanis, Birla, Jet for money laundering

Says HSBC running a hawala racket by collecting black money, transferring it to Swiss bank accounts

Gyan Verma  |  New Delhi 

Demanding the immediate arrest of some of the most prominent business tycoons, including Mukesh Ambani, Anil Ambani, Naresh Goyal of Jet Airways and members of the Dabur Group, activists of India Against Corruption (IAC) led by have charged them with amassing more than Rs 3,100 crore in Swiss banks through money laundering and hawala.

Kejriwal's list also included Anu Tandon, MP from Unnao whose husband Sandeep worked with RIL and whose sons are also employed by RIL.

Kejriwal along with Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan and former minister Shanti Bhushan alleged that the union government had received names of 700 people from the government of France in July 2011, who have accounts in Swiss bank.

The income tax department and enforcement directorate should immediately conduct raids against all the 700 people who have been named and they should be arrested if they are found guilty under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA).  

“The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government is shameless and Manmohan Singh government is causing security threat to the country by not acting against those involved in hawala and money laundering,” said in a press conference on Friday.   

He also alleged that then Finance Minister and now President of India, Pranab Mukherjee was part of the government machinery that, according to unverified, pardoned the Ambani brothers when they said they were ready to settle tax dues from income in foreign bank accounts to 'buy peace'.

Members of IAC have also alleged that HSBC bank was running a hawala racket in the country by collecting black money from corrupt businessmen and government servants and transferring it to their bank accounts in the Swiss bank. 

Kejriwal alleged that the black money stashed in foreign bank could be easily used to fund terrorism, narcotics and also to bribe politicians and bureaucrats by business houses.

“We have got these names from a senior Congress leader. The union government had got an entire list of 700 people in July 2010, who have accounts in Swiss bank, which included names of Mukesh Ambani, Anil Ambani, Kokila Dhirubhai Ambani, Naresh Goyal, three family members of Dabur group and Yashovardhan Birla. Instead of conducting income tax and enforcement directorate raids against them, Manmohan Singh government is protecting them,” said social activist

According to the entire list of 700 people, these people have stashed around Rs 6,000 crore in Swiss bank. 

Kejriwal said that union government should find out if Ambani brothers and other businessmen were also involved in money laundering and hawala.

According to the social activist, Motech Software Private Limited, a Reliance Group company, has Rs 2,100 crore in Swiss account, Reliance Industries Limited had Rs 500 crore, Mukesh Dhirubhai Ambani had Rs 100 crore, Anil Dhirubhai Ambani had stashed Rs 100 crore, and Naresh Goyal of Jet airways had Rs 80 crore in Swiss account till December 2006.

IAC has also alleged that Anand Chand Burman, Pradeep Chand Burman and Ratan Chand Burman of Dabur group had together amassed Rs 25 crore in their account in a Swiss bank.

“The statements of three businessmen – Parminder Singh Kalra, Praveen Sawhney and Vikram Dhirani - reveal the modus operandi of HSBC bank that indulges in money laundering and hawala. The three businessmen have told income tax department during their questioning that they used to call Mark Wizbek, Caroline and Salin Fighli whenever they wanted to deposit or withdraw money. People from the bank used to come to collect and deliver money,” Kejriwal said.

Basing his allegations on the statements of these three businessmen, Kejriwal has demanded that top officials of HSBC bank should be immediately arrested under Prevention of Money Laundering Act and operations of HSBC should be suspended in India.                

Reliance Industries Limited responded to Kejriwal's allegations by saying that neither Reliance Industries Limited nor have or had any illegitimate accounts anywhere in the world.

"Reliance Industries Limited has business interests in several countries with turnover of thousands of crores in Rupees. As a part of their normal business, these international subsidiaries of Reliance Industries deal with several global banks including HSBC. These accounts are fully compliant with all regulations and are disclosed in their appropriate jurisdictions and in India," the statement said.

The continued tirade of baseless allegations being made by IAC against us appears to be instigated by vested interests, the statement added.

A spokesperson for categorically denied all allegations made by IAC against him in their press conference today. He said, "had no bank accounts with HSBC in Geneva. It is regrettable that such baseless allegations are being made by IAC at the behest of vested interests."

Dabur, in a statement, said, "There have been some reports in the media pertaining to the foreign bank accounts of some Burman Family members, promoters of Dabur. We wish to state that these accounts were opened by the Burman family members when they were NRIs, and were legally allowed to open such accounts. The amount being referred to in the media, pertaining to these accounts, has been officially remitted from India through official banking channels and as per applicable FEMA guidelines. These amounts have been sent out of the declared and tax assessed incomes received in India. The complete details regarding the remittances have been voluntarily, and as per law, filed with the Income Tax Department, and appropriate taxes paid as applicable. Therefore it is unfortunate that every person having a foreign bank account is being painted with the same brush."

A Jet airways spokesperson said suggestions that there has been any unaccounted money stashed away in Swiss accounts is entirely false.

"Goyal received a routine enquiry letter from the Income Tax department regarding a bank account at HSBC Geneva of M/S Tailwinds Ltd, a company based in the Isle of Man. The existence of the company M/s Tailwinds is fully disclosed to various departments of the government of India. All questions have been satisfactorily replied to the Income Tax department,” he said.

Further there is no account in the name of Naresh Goyal in the Swiss bank as has been alleged.

HSBC India said they have no comments to offer.

First Published: Fri, November 09 2012. 14:10 IST