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Politicians and cricketers on black money list: ex-Swiss bank employee

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Nov 11, 2012 at 12:14pm IST

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New Delhi: A former Swiss bank employee has claimed that several politicians, cricketers and internationally well-known people have black money in the Swiss banks. Rudolf Elmer, who gave WikiLeaks the black money list told CNN-IBN that he did not sell any data to the Indian government. Speaking via Skype, Elmer said, "There are politicians, cricket players, international well-known people who are part of that sort of information."

Meanwhile, the government responded to the latest allegations levelled by Kejriwal and said that it is investigating the charges and acting on the alleged black money list handed over by the French government in 2011. In a statement, the government said, "Information received by the French government has been analysed and investigations have already been undertaken by different authorities under the Income Tax act." Sources in the Home Ministry said that a probe will be ordered into the allegations against HSBC Bank.

ALSO SEE Govt counters IAC, says details on black money being probed

However, Kejriwal on Saturday again hit back at the government asking why the black money list has not been made public despite the Supreme Court orders.

Kejriwal alleged that the government is shielding HSBC and that there in no proof of the probe initiated being fair. "Why is the government protecting HSBC? How can we believe that the government is doing a fair and honest inquiry? Why can't the government get the list of Indian tax defaulters who have black money in foreign banks like the US did," asked the anti-corruption activist.

ALSO SEE HSBC reacts to Kejriwal's allegations, says it is serious on compliance with law

Meanwhile, the Home Ministry also issued a statement on behalf of the Revenue Department. "Investigations in the matter are under progress including with the foreign tax authorities to obtain more information with regard to the reported account-holders. It would be pertinent to point out that the information received from the Government of France is covered by the confidentiality clause under the Double Taxation Avoidance Convention (DTAC) between India and France and can be used only for the tax purposes specified therein," read the statement.

Kejriwal on Saturday asked the government whether the names of industrialists he named as having accounts in HSBC Bank in Geneva were part of the list of 700 people handed over to the authorities by France. Posing questions to Finance Minister P Chidambaram, he said the country wants to know from him why the government was "applying" different yardsticks while investigating the matter as only some people are raided while others are let off.

ALSO SEE Kejriwal alleges Ambanis, Dabur owners have black money

Kejriwal had on Friday made fresh allegations that HSBC Bank was indulging in money laundering and claimed Mukesh and Anil Ambani, Jet Airways Chairman Naresh Goyal and Congress MP Annu Tandon had stashed black money in its Geneva branch. All those who were named by Kejriwal had denied the allegations.

HSBC Bank in India on Friday came out with a cautious reaction to the money laundering allegations made by activist-turned-politician Kejriwal saying it takes compliance with the law very seriously. Earlier in the day, Kejriwal 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. "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," the bank 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.

Government had dismissed the allegations made by Kejriwal on the black money issue saying there was nothing new in the accusations and no evidence has been given to substantiate them.

Kejriwal on Saturday interacted with netizens and answered their questions on Google+ Hangout. The one-hour session began at 8 pm India time and was aimed at interacting with non-resident Indians (NRIs) in particular.

Kejriwal also said that he was a dengue mosquito and would bite the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Kejriwal said this while responding to External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid's statement that Kejriwal's attack was just a mosquito bite that causes minor irritation. Kejriwal said, "I am a dengue mosquito. I will bite the Congress and BJP and then they will be in trouble."

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.

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.

Arvind 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.

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