Track black money-terror link: Par panel to govt

Last Updated: Friday, January 28, 2011 - 23:47

New Delhi: A Parliamentary panel has asked
top officials of the Finance Ministry track the trail of black
money used to fund acts of terror in the country.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance also
wanted the ministry to give clarification on the necessity to
have a non-disclosure clause in the international treaties
regarding exchange of banking information with various
countries.

The panel, headed by BJP leader Yashwant Sinha, wanted the
finance ministry and the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence
to evaluate the quantum of black money stashed in foreign
banks and ascertain how much has been routed back to the
country through FDI channels from small island nations.

Revenue Secretary Sunil Mitra, Central Board for Direct
Taxes (CBDT) Chairman Sudhir Chandra and Enforcement
Directorate Director Arun Mathur were among the officials who
appeared as witness before the Committee yesterday.

The panel members refused to accept the contention of the
officials that the names of black money holders could not be
disclosed because of taxation pacts with other countries.

Earlier this week, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had
said the names could not be revealed at this stage due to
international commitments.

He had said that the names could only be disclosed when
the Income Tax Department started prosecution and that even he
did not know the names. He had said if names were revealed at
that stage, no other country would ever give information to
India in these matters.

The members also voiced concern over the parallel economy
being run using black money and wanted thorough investigation
into the funds routed as investment through small islands like
Mauritius.

The ministry officials also told the Committee that
double taxation avoidance agreements (DTAAs) were being
amended.

They told the members that negotiations on 10 new tax
information exchange agreements, with Bahamas, Bermuda,
British Virgin Islands, Isle of Man, Cayman Islands, Jersey,
Monaco, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Argentina and Marshall Islands,
out of 22 identified jurisdictions have been completed.

The interim recommendations of BJP Task Force in 2009 had
estimated the amount of black money between USD 500 billion
and USD 1,400 billion. Mukherjee said these estimations were
based on unverifiable assumptions and approximations.

Last week, the Supreme Court had criticised the
government on its handling of the black money issue and its
reluctance to disclose the name of Indians who had stashed
their illegal money in LGT Bank of Liechtenstein.

PTI



First Published: Friday, January 28, 2011 - 23:47

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