India not submitting info in Hasan Ali case: Swiss

Swiss authorities have said that India has not given sufficient information on criminal as well as money laundering cases against billionaire stud farm owner Hasan Ali to enable them to decide on legal assistance.

Last Updated: Jun 11, 2010, 00:28 AM IST

New Delhi: Swiss authorities have said that
India has not given sufficient information on criminal as well
as money laundering cases against billionaire stud farm owner
Hasan Ali to enable them to decide on legal assistance.

"Without these information Swiss authorities can`t
examine whether the conditions to grant legal assistance are
fulfilled or not," Swiss Federal Office of Justice (FOJ) said
in an email in response to PTI queries.

The statement assumes significance in the wake of a
Mumbai court requesting Swiss authorities to assist the Income
Tax department in the investigation against Hasan Ali, who is
charged with tax evasion of about USD 15 billion.

A spokesperson of FOJ said that responding to its queries
in January 2007, the Indian Embassy in Switzerland had given
some information.

"In April 2007, the FOJ informed the Embassy that the
complements (documents) don`t include the necessary
specification. Indian authorities have not submitted the
necessary specification so far," the spokesperson said, adding
that without this information the issue of legal assistance
could not be decided.

Elaborating, the official said that Swiss authorities
had sought a "confirmation that the Indian investigation is a
criminal one and not tax or related investigation," besides a
better description of the offences that the Indian anti-money
laundering agencies are pursuing.

FOJ also asked Indian authorities to show the relation
between the predicate offences (an activity where money
generated is an offence) and the accounts in Switzerland.

However, the official said that based on its national
law, Switzerland could provide legal assistance to all
countries even in the absence of a bilateral treaty.
India already has a double taxation avoidance treaty
with Switzerland and is negotiating for expanding it to enable
exchange of information relating to black money stashed there.

The official said that banking information for the
country could be exchanged with foreign authorities through
international legal assistance and "Swiss bank secrecy is
lifted in all kinds of crime investigation, including tax
fraud. It is no impediment for the authorities to prosecute
criminals."
In January 2007, India had submitted a request for legal
assistance to FOJ for help in the case of Hasan Ali, who
first came under the radar of authorities in 2006.

His farm house in Pune was searched several times by the
tax authorities and later the Enforcement Directorate got into
the act and initiated action against him on Money laundering
allegations.

PTI