Black Money: SIT seeks more info from public; no big names in list?

The nation's campaign against black money may not yield good results as sources claimed on Thursday that there are no big names having any links with major political parties or corporate houses in the government's list of 627 foreign account holders that was provided to the Supreme Court yesterday.

Black Money: SIT seeks more info from public; no big names in list?

New Delhi: The nation's campaign against black money may not yield good results as sources claimed on Thursday that there are no big names having any links with major political parties or corporate houses in the government's list of 627 foreign account holders that was provided to the Supreme Court yesterday.

If sources are to be believed then there are little chances of recovering huge amounts of untaxed money stashed in foreign banks by some 350-odd Indians, who may face prosecution for illegally depositing unaccounted money in foreign tax heavens.

Media reports further claimed that the account entries of those in question are too old and reflected relatively small deposits. The rest of the names in the list of 627 are non-resident Indians (NRIs) who cannot be prosecuted against under Indian tax laws since they enjoy immunity.

The sources also claimed that most of the bank account entries were as old as 2006 and records for which were being kept from 1999 to 2004-05. One of the account entries dated to 1973 and is barred under law from being assessed for tax evasion, they claimed.

The sources added that since most of the account entries were old what if the account holders have withdrawn their accounts - meaning the government would not be able to recover huge money even after freezing their assets in cooperation with Swiss authorities, which is also unlikely.

Meanwhile, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) constituted by the Supreme Court to monitor the probe into untaxed money stashed in foreign bank accounts has invited information from the public.

The panel, which includes retired judges and regulators, will release an email id where anyone can give information, reports say.

The public can give us credible information on black money. We will investigate that information, but we want credible inputs - do not expect us to go on a fishing expedition, sources in the SIT said.

The panel will meet today to work out details of its inquiry a day after the government submitted a list of 627 foreign account holders to the Supreme Court in a sealed envelope.

The court set a deadline of March next year to complete investigations into whether these account holders have violated tax laws. The court said the list will be given to the top officials of the SIT.

The previous Congress government and the new BJP administration have both argued in court that tax treaties with other countries prohibit the disclosure of names till charges are framed.

The court said the government can present its concerns before the SIT. "It said we must place problems before the SIT for further negotiations on treaties and any economic impact," said Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi on Wednesday.

In the next few weeks, the SIT is likely to submit to the apex court a report on 220 Indians who have allegedly parked illegal money at HSBC in Geneva. The names were shared by France in 2011; the data was allegedly stolen by a bank employee who turned whistle-blower.

The Supreme Court has been monitoring India's attempts to recover black money since 2009 after a petition by senior lawyer Ram Jethmalani. In addition to the HBSC list, Germany has supplied a list of 18 Indians with accounts in Lichtenstein.

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