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Govt dismisses Kejriwal's black money claims; IAC activists to protest

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Nov 10, 2012 at 02:17pm IST

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New Delhi: The government has dismissed India Against Corruption activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal's allegations of black money against big corporate houses, saying there is nothing new in it. "Nothing new in the allegations. This has already been discussed in Parliament. Government may issue a statement if required," the government said.

Meanwhile, Kejriwal has defended his allegations of black money against big corporate houses. "The government is not able to force the banks to give details of account holders. Are we a banana republic," Kejriwal asked. "Set up a Jan Lokpal and an independent agency to investigate the cases or else there will never be an honest investigation against high and mighty," he added.

ALSO SEE Dabur, HSBC deny Kejriwal's charges; Ambanis say he has vested interests

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said investigations will begin only if there's a formal complaint is made. "Let me turn to Kejriwal. He's welcome to make these allegations. If he has material, it will be taken into account. There's no doubt. Nobody is belittling him. If he's made allegations against anyone, of course not everyone has the same freedom as he does, but if they are disclosing something in the nature of what he said, you can be rest assured investigation will start. That's about it. What else should we do? We can't go to cameras. If there is credible information, if I have information about you, will I go only to the cameras? Will I have only a press conference? You can have a press conference because you like publicity. But thereafter, send the information as a complaint or an FIR to the approriate authority.

Taking their fight further, India Against Corruption activists will gherao the Mumbai residences of RIL chairman Mukesh Ambani and Reliance ADAG Anil Ambani later on saturday. They will also hold protests outside Reliance outlets and HSBC branches in Chennai, Allahabad, Jodhpur, Raipur, Jabalpur and Gwalior.

ALSO SEE Accounts in foreign banks as per law: Dabur India

Corporate houses deny allegations

Reliance Industries Limited, the HSBC bank, the Dabur group have all denied the charges levelled against them by India Against Corruption activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal who accused their chiefs of having crores of cash deposits in Swiss bank accounts where money, he alleged, was transferred through hawala.

ALSO SEE 'Naresh Goyal has no account in HSBC Bank Geneva'

Reliance Industries denied that chief Mukesh Ambani had stashed Rs 100 crore in black money in the HSBC Bank in Geneva. It issued a press release, rubbishing Kejriwal's allegations. The company said that neither Reliance Industries Limited nor Mukesh Ambani had any accounts with HSBC in Geneva. The company added that vested interests seemed to be behind such baseless allegations.

HSBC Bank, however, came out with a more cautious reaction saying that it took compliance with the law very seriously. "HSBC Bank in India notes certain allegations made today. The bank cannot comment on the specific details of the allegations that have been made, which relate to issues in the past," it said in its statement. "HSBC takes compliance with the law, wherever it operates, very seriously. With a new senior global leadership team and a new strategy in place since last year, HSBC continues to take concrete steps to strengthen compliance, risk management and culture," the bank added.

Dabur India, on the other hand, regretted the allegations against the Burman brothers, saying, "It was unfortunate that every person having a foreign bank account is being painted with the same brush." Kejriwal had accused the Burman brothers of having accounts at the HSBC bank in Geneva. "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 Dabur India statement said.

Claiming that the monies have been sent out of the declared and tax-assessed incomes received in India, the statement said the amounts have been officially remitted from India through official banking channels and as per applicable FEMA guidelines. "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," the statement said.

Kejriwal's allegations

India Against Corruption activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal on Friday targeted several top Indian business groups and a Congress MP, alleging that they had stashed black money worth several hundred crores in the HSBC Bank in Geneva, Switzerland. He claimed that a senior Congress leader gave him the details about the black money. "The black money from Swiss banks can come but the government doesn't wish to bring it back," Kejriwal said.

Targeting the Ambani brothers, Kejriwal claimed that Reliance ADAG Chairman Anil Ambani and Reliance Industries Limited Chairman Mukesh Ambani had Rs 100 crore each in banks in Switzerland. "Anil Ambani has Rs 100 crore in HSBC Bank in Geneva. Mukesh Ambani also has Rs 100 crore in HSBC Bank in Geneva," Kejriwal said, claiming he has got a few names from the list of Swiss account holders from sources. However, the HSBC Bank had in a statement in January 2012 apologised to Mukesh Ambani for putting his name on a list of alleged Swiss bank account holders.

Kejriwal also targeted Congress MP Annu Tandon, alleging she had Rs 125 crore in Swiss accounts. He alleged that a total of Rs 6,000 crore was stashed abroad. Annu Tandon reacted saying Kejriwal's allegations were baseless.

The activist-turned-politician also alleged that three family members of Dabur group and Naresh Goyal of Jet Airways have crores stashed in Swiss banks.

He also said that the process of opening an account in the Geneva branch of HSBC Bank was easier than opening an account in the SBI account. "Documents show how easy it is to operate the Swiss accounts sitting here in India. Documents show how money gets deposited and transferred through hawala. Opening an account is just a matter of a phone call," Kejriwal said.

Kejriwal claimed that only 100 people of those in the list of 700 people having Swiss bank accounts have been raided. "Why did the government not raid the Ambanis and the Daburs? Small fish were raided by the ED, I-T Department, but the big guys were let off," Kejriwal said.

Following are the links to the details released by Arvind Kejriwal on Friday. The documents are hosted on the website of India Against Corruption:

Is Government encouraging hawala, asks IAC

Annexure 1_Statement of Parminder Singh Kalra

Annexure 2_Statement of Vikram Dhirani

Annexure 3_Statement of Praveen Sawhney

Annexure 4_Media release - What did US do in similar situation

Question in Parliament

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