Waiting for India`s request in Hasan Ali case: Swiss govt

Switzerland said it was waiting for a "complete" request from India seeking help in probe against Hasan Ali, even as the domestic enforcement agencies tightened their noose on the stud farm owner.

Last Updated: Mar 08, 2011, 19:41 PM IST

New Delhi: Switzerland on Tuesday said it was
waiting for a "complete" request from India seeking help in
probe against Hasan Ali, even as the domestic enforcement
agencies tightened their noose on the stud farm owner accused
of having billions of dollars of black money in Swiss banks.

The Indian government had first sought freezing of Ali`s
bank accounts in Switzerland way back in 2007. It had made
several requests since then to the European country for help
in probe against the Pune-based businessman, accused of having
massive illicit wealth in foreign banks.

However, Swiss authorities have rejected all requests,
saying they did not conform to necessary grounds for mutual
assistance in this particular case and have asked India to
submit a fresh request with certain facts and details.

Replying to a query on whether the Indian authorities
have approached Switzerland with a fresh request for
assistance in Hasan Ali case, a spokesperson for the Swiss law
ministry said that there was no such development so far.

Ali was arrested last night by the Enforcement
Directorate, after the agency carried out searches at his Pune
home and that of his associates` premises in several cities.

A day later, the Supreme Court today asked probe agencies
to consider invoking terror and other stringent penal charges
against 53-year old Ali for his alleged links with arms
dealers and people linked to terror activities.

The ED also submitted to the court, in a sealed cover,
its status report on the probe into the case related to black
money in which they also mentioned Khan`s arrest last night.

The government also told the court that it would also
furnish a status report on income-tax department`s probe.

India had last contacted the Switzerland government in
August 2010 seeking legal assistance from the law ministry of
the European nation in criminal proceedings for tax offences
against Ali, the Swiss government official said.

In reply to this request, the Swiss ministry, the Federal
Department of Justice of Switzerland, had said that India
needed to submit a "complete" request by corroborating about
issues like suspected tax frauds to get the assistance.

However, the request has not been completed so far, the
spokesperson for Swiss law ministry said and added that
"Indian authorities may complete their request at any time."

India had first sought legal assistance from the Swiss
authorities in January 2007 in this case, but Switzerland can
provide help only after India makes a request "complete" with
facts corresponding to a fraudulent conduct of the accused,
the official said.

Besides, the Swiss government`s internal probe in the
case of Hasan Ali, who is alleged to have stashed billions of
dollars of illicit wealth in Swiss and other foreign banks,
has found no reality in the presumed transfer of USD 6 billion
to his accounts in Swiss bank UBS, the official added.

In reply to queries on this matter, the FoJ spokesperson
provided an entire chronology of the case since 2007.

"In January 2007, the Indian authorities submitted in the
context of criminal proceedings against Hasan Ali Khan (namely
for money laundering) a request for legal assistance to the
FoJ. They asked the Swiss authorities to freeze his bank
accounts and to hand over the relevant banking documents."

In the same month, FoJ informed the Indian authorities
that "concerning the presumed transfer of USD 6 billions
domestic inquiries have revealed that the supposed transfer to
UBS accounts has no reality."

On India`s request for help in the matter, the Swiss
authorities replied that they needed specific details to
"examine and possibly to accept and execute the request," the
official said.

These specific details included a confirmation that the
Indian investigation is a criminal one (no tax or related
investigation), a better description of the predicate offences
which are object of the Indian money-laundering investigation
and to show the relation between the predicate offences and
the accounts in Switzerland.

The FoJ spokesperson said that the Indian Embassy in
March 2007 submitted some complements to the FoJ.

However, the FoJ informed the Embassy in April 2007 that
the complements did not include the necessary specification.

"Without these information the Swiss authorities cannot
examine whether the conditions to grant legal assistance are
fulfilled or not. Indian authorities have not submitted the
necessary specification so far," he added.

The FoJ spokesperson said that the Indian authorities
submitted a new request for legal assistance in August 2010 in
the context of criminal proceedings for tax offences.

However, even this request was not considered as
"complete" with all the necessary specifications by the Swiss
authorities.

"In the same month (August 2010), the FoJ told the Indian
authorities: Switzerland does not grant mutual assistance for
tax evasion. However, mutual assistance may be granted in
cases of tax fraud (fraudulent evasion of duty and taxes by
using false, forged or untrue information, documents etc)" the
official said.

The FoJ spokesperson added, "The Indian authorities may
complete their request at any time, if fraudulent conduct is
discovered in the Indian proceedings. The request hasn`t been
completed so far."

PTI