`No authentic figures on black money deposits`

The Finance Ministry says it has "no authentic figures" about the quantum of money deposited in Swiss banks.

Updated: Apr 22, 2011, 10:40 AM IST

New Delhi: As the tussle seeking disclosure
of names of people who have stashed black money abroad
continues in Supreme Court, the Finance Ministry says it has
"no authentic figures" about the quantum of money deposited in
Swiss banks.

The Ministry also said that certain "references" have
been received on the black money issue but declined to make
the information public since it will "impede the process of
investigation" as the case is being heard in the apex court.

"There are no authentic figures about the amount of
deposits held by Indian citizens in Swiss Banks, which are
exclusive of their lawful and legitimate deposits," the
Ministry said in reply to an RTI query.

"Certain references have been received on this issue on
which appropriate action is being taken. However, as
furnishing of information at this stage may impede the process
of investigation in the matter, the information sought is
exempt from disclosure under the provisions of Section 8 (1)
(h) of the RTI Act 2005," it said.

The applicant had asked the Ministry of Finance to give
information on the names of individuals/companies who have
deposited black money in Swiss banks along with the steps
taken by the government to check it.

"It is stated that efforts have been made from time to
time to seek details of the bank accounts held by Indians in
Swiss Confederation under the existing Double Taxation
Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) between India and Switzerland.

"However, the Swiss Federal Tax Administration has
expressed its inability to exchange the information regarding
bank deposits of Indian citizens as the information was not
necessary for the application of the DTAA between India and
Swiss Confederation but was required only for the enforcement
of India internal laws," the RTI reply said.

"They (Swiss Authorities) also replied that such
information was not at their disposal under Swiss Laws in the
normal course of tax administration," it added.

The Supreme Court hearing a petition yesterday slammed
the government for its inefficiency in dealing with the case
and focusing its probe only on Hasan Ali, owner of Pune-based
stud farm, accused of money laundering and largescale tax

"Was the Government sleeping all these years on the
issue of blackmoney," the court had asked while hearing a
petition filed by noted lawyer Ram Jethmalani and others
seeking direction to the government to bring back black money
stashed by Indian citizens in foreign banks which is believed
to be around USD one trillion.

Many NGOs and whistleblowers have complained to
authorities that Indian money worth several thousands crore
was illegally routed to many tax havens and urged government
to take strict measures to put a bar on it.