Black money case: Centre submits secret list with 627 names of foreign A/C holders to SC

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B1F4bezCcAAWBkkThe National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government submitted to the Supreme Court on Wednesday a secret list comprising names of Indians having accounts in foreign banks.

The Centre handed over the list with 627 names in a sealed cover to the court, which directed the government on Tuesday not to provide a “protective umbrella” to such persons.

Attorney general Mukul Rohatgi complied with the court order to submit the names of those being scrutinised for allegedly hiding funds in Swiss bank accounts.

“The government of India gave the entire list of HSBC accounts. There are about 627 accounts. We gave it in a sealed cover to the court,” Rohatgi told reporters outside the court.

The apex court, however, did not open the envelope and observed that it be placed before a special investigation team (SIT) probing the black money case.

The government also submitted two other sealed envelopes containing details of various treaties with foreign countries and the probe conducted by its agencies.

Only the SIT chairman and vice-chairman can open the envelopes, the court said, directing the crack team to submit a status report by the end of November.

Pointing out that the SIT will decide what further action is to be taken on the issue, the court set the next date of hearing in the case on December 3.

“The court has directed all documents should be handed over to SIT and they will take appropriate decisions on the matter,” said lawyer Prashant Bhushan.

blackRohatgi was quoted by ANI as saying, “All assessments have to be completed by March 31, 2015… Sealed covers will be opened by SIT.”

The Supreme Court’s order to submit all the names came a day after the Centre filed an affidavit disclosed the names of seven individuals and a mining company who have allegedly stashed black money abroad and are facing prosecution for tax evasion under the Income Tax Act.

The much-awaited first list did not include names of any politician.

Those named in the government affidavit were Pradip Burman of the Dabur group, Rajkot-based bullion trader Pankaj Chimanlal Lodhya and directors of Goa-based mining company Timblo Private Limited – Radha Satish Timblo, Chetan S Timblo, Rohan S Timblo, Anna C Timblo and Mallika R Timblo. Timblo Private Limited, a firm identified by Association for Democratic Reforms as a donor to both the BJP and the Congress, was also named.

The NDA government said on Monday that Swiss authorities had agreed to provide information to help India investigate leaked accounts, after earlier saying such assistance would break Swiss law.

The court is hearing a public interest petition filed by former law minister Ram Jethmalani in 2009 seeking a direction to the Centre to bring back black money stashed by Indians abroad. Jethmalani had accused the government of attempting to shield powerful politicians and businessmen.

Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal has also filed an application requesting the court to hear him in the matter.

While there are no official estimates, Global Financial Integrity (GFI), a Washington-based think-tank, has estimated that Indians had salted away $462 billion (about 28 lakh crore in current exchange rates) in overseas tax havens between 1948 and 2008.

Black money arises mainly from incomes not disclosed to the government usually to avoid taxation, and, sometimes, because of its criminal links. About a third of India’s black money transactions are believed to be in real estate, followed by manufacturing and shopping for gold and consumer goods.

-Hindustan times

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