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Black money case: Centre reveals names of 3 businessmen

Pradip Burman of Dabur Group among those mentioned

M J Anthony  |  New Delhi 

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On the eve of the Supreme Court hearing in the case, the government on Monday filed an affidavit naming one firm and a few prominent businesspersons who hold accounts in tax havens abroad.

They are Pradip Burman, formerly of Dabur India group; Goa-based mining firm Timblo Private Ltd and its directors Mrs Radha S. Timblo, Chetan Timblo, Rohan Timblo, Mrs Anna Timblo and Mrs Maillka Timbo; and bullion trader Pankaj Chimanlal Lodhya (Read Lodhiya's denial). The information is based on data received from French tax authorities.

The affidavit also includes the names of 18 trusts which merited prosecution under the Income Tax Act for evasion of tax. Prosecution has been launched in these cases, except in one case where the tax payer has died. The prosecution in these cases was based on information received from Germany.

The three have been charged under various sections of the Income Tax Act and Money Laundering Act.

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In a statement released shortly after the names were made public, Dabur said that Burman's account is legal.

"We wish to state that this account was opened when he was an NRI, and was legally allowed to open this account. We have followed all the laws and the complete details regarding the account have been voluntarily, and as per law, filed with the Income Tax Department, and appropriate taxes paid, wherever applicable," the company statement said.

It is "unfortunate" that every foreign account holder is being painted with the same brush, it added.

Burman currently holds no position in the homegrowm FMCG major.

The affidavit also includes the names of 18 trusts which merited prosecution under the Income Tax Act for evasion of tax. Prosecution has been launched in these cases, except in one case where the tax payer has died. The prosecution in these cases was based on information received from Germany.

However, the new affidavit took the same stand as that of the earlier government and asserted that international treaties allowed it to disclose the names and information about the foreign account holders “only after investigations are completed, when there is prima facie case of wrong-doing and a complaint/prosecution is filed in court for tax evasion.” Since the court had asked the government to disclose the names, the government wants a clarification on this direction.

The affidavit, which will come up before a bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu, stated that “once a complaint is filed, the information would also be available to other agencies dealing with money-laundering, terrorist financing, corruption etc for carrying out necessary investigations.”

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Calling the Centre's move historic, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said, "This government at the Centre has shown the intention of not only declaring the names, but also bringing back the "

The Bharatiya Janata Party had made the issue of a key campaign issue during the run up to the Lok Sabha elections earlier this year. It implemented a Supreme Court directive to set up a high-powered special investigation team, headed by retired judge MB Shah, to look into the black money issue.

Last week, FInance Minister Arun Jaitley hinted that the Congress party would face embarrassment if the government revealed names of black money holders. Responding to his statement, former finance minister P Chidambaram reacted strongly, saying Jaitley was moving from ''black money to blackmail".

The Centre told the court that information received from foreign countries will be disclosed in all cases where tax evasion is established. Every foreign account held by an Indian may not be illegal, the Centre said, adding that names cannot be disclosed unless there is prima facie evidence of wrongdoing.

The Centre further stated that an Indian delegation which visited Switzerland this month has been told that that government was willing to provide information in cases where investigations have been carried out by the tax authorities independently from what the Swiss government considered as stolen data.

While there are no official estimates, Global Financial Integrity (GFI), a Washington-based think-tank, has estimated that Indians had parked $462 billion in overseas tax havens between 1948 and 2008.

The Supreme Court will hear the case on Tuesday.

(With inputs from agencies)

First Published: Mon, October 27 2014. 12:41 IST