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A day after India Against Corruption (IAC) activist Arvind Kejriwal alleged that some of India’s top businessmen had stashed Rs 3,100 crore in Swiss banks accounts, the government today said action is being taken against all the individuals named in the list given to it by France in June last year.
It, however, did not comment on names revealed by Kejirwal on Friday citing confidentiality clause under the Double Taxation Avoidance Convention (DTAC) between India and France. Kejriwal had alleged Mukesh Ambani, Anil Ambani, Jet Airways’ Naresh Goyal and some members of Dabur Group’s Burman family had secret accounts in Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank Corporation (HSBC) Bank, Geneva. All the individuals and the companies named had denied the charges.
“Information was received in June 2011 by the Government of India from the Government of France relating to certain bank accounts reportedly held by certain individuals/non-individuals in a foreign bank. Reference to this matter was made by then Finance Minister (Pranab Mukherjee) during the course of the debate on an adjournment motion in the Lok Sabha on December 14, 2011.
Subsequently, answers to questions on this matter were furnished in the Rajya Sabha on August 23, 2012,” the finance ministry said in a statement today. The finance ministry said information received from France has been analysed and investigations have been undertaken by different jurisdictional authorities under the Income Tax Act. It said the information cannot be disclosed as per India-France tax treaty except for tax purposes. “Investigations in the matter are under progress including with foreign tax authorities to obtain more information with regard to the reported account holders. Appropriate action has been taken on these cases and further action including assessment, tax collection and levy of penalty will be taken as per the provisions of the Income Tax Act and based on the facts of each case,” it added. Kejriwal, along with Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan and former minister Shanti Bhushan, alleged that the government had received names of 700 people with accounts in HSBC, Geneva. They alleged that the Income Tax Department raided some smaller businessmen on the basis of this information, but the big fish managed to evade penalties and get away by paying only the applicable taxes — after “buying peace” with Mukherjee, now the President. In a reply in Parliament in September 2012, Minister of State for Finance SS Palanimanickam said investigations conducted on the basis of information received from the government of France about deposits of Indians abroad have led to detection of undisclosed income of Rs 565 crore. End