NEW DELHI: In the first major disclosure on black money, 339 Indians have been found to have stashed Rs 4,479 crore in Swiss banks, while domestic unaccounted wealth to the tune of Rs 14,958 crore has been traced, even as the SIT recommended stringent measures to check the menace.
The Supreme Court-constituted SIT has recommended amendments to laws to provide for confiscation of domestic properties of those with illicit assets abroad and making tax evasion of over Rs 50 lakh a ‘predicate offence’ or a serious crime to facilitate necessary action under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
The 13 recommendations made by the SIT also include imposing a threshold of Rs 10-15 lakh on holding and transporting cash to check the black money menace.
After probing into a list of 628 Indians, who figured on a list of account holders in HSBC’s Geneva branch that India got from the French government, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) has said that prosecution has begun against 79 entities.
Out of these, no balance has been found in case of 289 accounts, according to a report of the SIT submitted to the court, portions of which were released by government on Friday.
“Out of the 628 persons, 201 are either non-residents or non-traceable, leaving 427 persons cases as actionable cases,” an official statement said.
While the total amount involved in these cases is about Rs 4,479 crore, the income tax department has finalized assessment for 79 entities involving 339 cases.
“An amount of Rs 2,926 crore has been brought to tax towards the undisclosed balances in the accounts relating to these persons,” the statement said, adding that taxes along with interest at applicable rates have been levied.
While suggesting steps like curbs on cash transportation beyond a level and mandatory quoting of PAN for cash and cheque payments over Rs 1 lakh, the SIT has flagged off mining, ponzi schemes, iron ore exports, misuse of export-import route as major areas prone to black money transactions.
The issue of black money has been a major political issue in India, including in the last Lok Sabha polls.
Incidentally, today’s disclosure comes at a time when Switzerland has indicted Herve Falciani, a former HSBC employee, who had leaked information related to thousands of bank account holders at its Geneva branch. He was charged on Thursday by the Swiss authorities for ‘industrial espionage, breach of trade and banking secrecy’. (Courtesy: Times of India)