Citizens' Issues
Black Money: Indians rank 16th on leaked HSBC list
There are 2,699 accounts linked to 1,688 Indians on the list and the maximum amount related with a client connected to India was $876.3 million, says an investigative report from ICIJ
 
With total funds of $4.1 billion, Indians rank 16th on the new leaked HSBC list of Swiss bank account holders from over 200 countries, while people from Switzerland are on the top.
 
The list, made public by International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), comprises over one lakh HSBC customers and their bank accounts with balances totalling over $100 billion. There are more than 19,000 clients not associated with any country, ICIJ said.
 
In terms of money in these accounts, account holders from Switzerland are on the top ($31.2 billion), followed by UK, Venezuela, US and France in the top five. India is at 16th place on this parameter.
 
In terms of the number of account holders, India is at 18th place (1,668 account holders), while Switzerland is on the top again with 11,235 account holders. Others in the top—five include France, UK, Brazil and Italy.
 
ICIJ said that its “Swiss Leaks project is based on a trove of almost 60,000 leaked files that provide details on over 100,000 HSBC clients and their bank accounts.
 
The data of these accounts were “secreted away by Herve Falciani, a former HSBC employee—turned—whistleblower“.
 
He turned the data over to the French government in 2008 and its tax authority launched an investigation.
 
French newspaper Le Monde obtained a version of the tax authority data and shared it with ICIJ with the agreement that it would assemble a global team of journalists to explore the data and produce this reporting project.
 
“The data comes from three types of internal bank files from different time periods. One reflects clients and their associated private accounts at the Swiss branch of the bank mostly from 1988 to 2007.
 
The leaked files also include a snapshot of the maximum amounts in the client accounts during 2006 and 2007, as also “notes on clients and conversations with them made by bank employees during 2005“.
 
About its findings, ICIJ said that the Swiss branch of HSBC “continued to offer services to clients who had been unfavourably named by the United Nations, in court documents and in the media as connected to arms trafficking, blood diamonds and bribery“.
 
“HSBC served those close to discredited regimes such as that of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, former Tunisian president Ben Ali and current Syrian ruler Bashar al—Assad.
 
“India is ranked 16th among the countries with the largest dollar amounts in the leaked Swiss files,” ICIJ said, while adding that the maximum amount of money associated with a client connected to India was $876.3 million.
 
There are 2,699 accounts linked to 1,688 Indians on the list. Out of these, 1,403 client accounts were opened between 1969 and 2006.
 
Out of the total 1,668 clients associated with India, 51% have an Indian passport or nationality, ICIJ said.
 
The remaining accounts were liked to offshore companies, or were ‘numbered’ accounts.
 
“The bank repeatedly reassured clients that it would not disclose details of accounts to national authorities, even if evidence suggested that the accounts were undeclared to tax authorities in the client’s home country.
 
“Bank employees also discussed with clients a range of measures that would ultimately allow clients to avoid paying taxes in their home countries,” ICIJ said, while adding this included holding accounts in the name of offshore companies to avoid regulatory glare,” it added.

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COMMENTS

Sanjeev B

3 years ago

We need to differentiate between tax evasion vs income from illegal means (terrorism, violence, drugs).

Tax evasion is subjective and intricate, but crime isn't.

Governments and global crime agencies need to go after the real criminals and not get distracted investigating tax evaders.

Black Money: News report shows 1195 names having Swiss bank accounts

According to 'Swiss Leaks', a joint investigation carried out by Indian Express, Washington-based ICIJ and Paris-based Le Monde, among 1,195 Indians named in the reports were members of top business families such as the Ambanis, Burmans, Rahejas and Salgaocars  

 

As many as 1,195 Indians – twice the 628 names given to Indian government by French authorities in 2011 – have accounts with the Swiss arm of HSBC Bank, says a report from the Indian Express. Reacting to the report, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said, most of the names (in the news report) already figure in the list submitted by the Government to the Special Investigative Team (SIT). According to a report from Reuters, British bank HSBC Holdings Plc had admitted failings by its Swiss subsidiary, in response to media reports it helped wealthy customers dodge taxes and conceal millions of dollars of assets.
 
The new list includes names of account holders and their balances for the year 2006-07.  The investigation, conducted by the newspaper in collaboration with Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and the Paris-based Le Monde newspaper, revealed names including prominent businessmen like Reliance Industries’ chairman Mukesh Ambani, his brother and ADAG chairman Anil Ambani, industrialist Yashovardhan Birla, real estate magnate Chandru Lachhmandas Raheja and Goan tycoon Dattaraj Salgaocar, among others.
 
According to the joint investigations by the newspapers, there are names of a few account holders with connections to politicians. Names of former UPA minister Preneet Kaur and former Congress MP Annu Tandon feature on the list. Neelam Narayan Rane and Nilesh Rane, the wife and son of Maharashtra's former chief minister Narayan Rane are also on the list. Smita Thackeray, daughter-in-law of the late Shiv Sena leader Balasaheb Thackeray, also features on the list.
 
Prominent names such as Rajendra Ruia, Vimal Ruia, Naresh Goyal and Swraj Paul are also in the latest list published by the newspapers. 
 
Jaitley said, the government will look into these additional names that have emerged in the reports and launch action against them if found to be Indian residents.
 
According to a report from the Guardian, that the files showed HSBC's Swiss bank routinely allowed clients to withdraw "bricks" of cash, often in foreign currencies which were of little use in Switzerland, marketed schemes which were likely to enable wealthy clients to avoid European taxes and colluded with some to conceal undeclared accounts from domestic tax authorities. 
 
"The data was supplied by Herve Falciani, a former IT employee of HSBC's Swiss private bank. HSBC said Falciani downloaded details of accounts and clients at the end of 2006 and early 2007. French authorities have obtained data on thousands of the customers and shared them with tax authorities elsewhere, including Argentina," says the report from Reuters.
 
Meanwhile, the SIT on black money is scheduled to meet later in the day to discuss status of cases of Indians found to have been holding illegal accounts abroad and disclosures made by an international private investigation.
 
According to reports, the SIT had already solicited information against Indian black money holders from the public. Some names have been reflected in the ICIJ list, which have not been there earlier and it will be discussed during the meeting today.
 

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Modi may use military option if terror attack traced to Pakistan, says Blackwill
According to Robert Blackwill, former US Ambassador to India, PM Modi will be much more likely to use military force if there is a major terrorist attack whose breadcrumbs lead to Pakistan and the Pakistani military and ISI
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to use the military option if the next terrorist attack in India is traced back to Pakistan, says Robert Blackwill, former US Ambassador to India. He, however, expressed hope that the Pakistanis would understand that their past behaviour is unlikely to be tolerated now.
 
“Every Indian Prime Minister since the attack on the Parliament in Delhi now heading on 15 years ago has looked seriously at a military response when these incidents occur and has stepped back. But I believe that sentiment inside India has changed substantially and I think this Prime Minister is unlikely to step back,” Blackwill said.
 
“If there is a major terrorist attack whose breadcrumbs lead to Pakistan and the Pakistan military and ISI, I think that this Prime Minister is likely to use military force against Pakistan territory. It’s not a certainty,” Blackwill told reporters during a conference call organised by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), a top American think-tank.
 
Blackwill, who is a close watcher of India and South Asia, said Modi’s predecessors have been briefed by the Indian military on options and have never found them attractive.
 
“But I think Modi, both as a personality and reflecting Indian public opinion and political sentiment across the society will be much more likely to use military force than his predecessors,” he said.
 
“Now how that might be applied is another matter. To try to diminish the likelihood of escalation between two nuclear weapon states, but hopefully the Pakistanis understand that their behaviour in the past is unlikely to be tolerable to this Indian Prime Minister,” Blackwill said in response to a question.
 
Stephen Cohen, senior fellow in foreign policy at the Brookings Institute, agreed that Prime Minister Modi’s response to a terrorist attack emanating from Pakistan would be a different one than that of his predecessor.
 
“I think based on what he (Modi) said and I think based on the Indian public sentiment, if there was another Mumbai attack, which I don’t think it’s going to be that likely, it (India’s response) may be something quite different. There will be a vigorous Indian response. Perhaps even direct attacks on Pakistani territory, hitting camps,” Cohen said.

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COMMENTS

vishal

3 years ago

the recent attack by both sides should be sufficient evidence for every one to know any terror attack from Pakistan will be disastrous for both sides. Indian patience because of Pakistan continuous attempt to bleed Indian security forces is thin and evaporating. It will be difficult to imagine what will happen in such circumstances.

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