New Delhi: In what may put more pressure on the government to bring back black money stashed in banks abroad, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Tuesday confirmed that ‘there is more Indian money in Swiss banks than any other nationality’.
In an interview to a private news channel, the founder of the whistle-blowing organization disclosed that he has access to the Swiss bank details about Indian nationals who have stashed foreign money in Swiss controlled banks all over the world.
“Yes, there are Indian names in the list,” he said.
Assange, while expressing concern that Indians depositing billions of black money in foreign locations is having a cascading impact on the economy, stressed upon the need for the government to be more vigilant on the issue.
“The Indian government needs to be more aggressive in tracking the black money stashed in foreign banks since Indians depositing money in foreign banks is debasing the rupee,” he pointed out.
However, he lamented that the Indian government’s response to the stunning disclosures made by the whistle-blowing website have been “very discouraging”.
“The Indian government’s response to the disclosures made by us has been the worst in the whole world. The Indian government has been clearly attempting to mislead the people of India. I have been told the PM Singh is not corrupt, but his intention so far in tracing the black money stashed abroad has been very disappointing,” Assange said.
The WikiLeaks founder also categorically rejected the government’s argument that the double taxation agreement with the Swiss authorities was hampering the efforts in bringing the money back.
“Double taxation has nothing to do with the assets hiding. It’s affecting the economy and making things dearer for Indians,” he said.
Suspecting a foul play by the Swiss authorities, Assange stated that the disclosures by his organization have made people jittery in the concerned nations as he has been approached by some elements to return the Swiss bank data in return for big favours.
Julian Assange also lamented that the Swiss bank whistleblower Rudolf Elmer, a former employee of Switzerland’s Julius Baer Bank and Trust Ltd, was being held hostage for leaking the list purportedly containing names of the secret account holders to WikiLeaks.
Assange said that he was being threatened to withdraw the crucial information which he has about Swiss banks account holders over the pretext that it would jeopardize the banking business in Switzerland and other safe tax havens.
Reacting to the report, BJP spokesperson Nirmala Shantiraman has asked the UPA government to take urgent steps in bringing back billions of unaccounted money stashed in foreign banks, reveal the names of major tax evaders and punish them.
Senior lawyer Ram Jethmalani, who is the main petitioner in the black money case being heard by the Supreme Court, has lashed out at the government and said action must be taken now.