Foreign accounts: Action taken, says government
The government Saturday said a probe was on to elicit information and appropriate action had been initiated under the Income Tax Act but refused to divulge names provided by France of people and companies who hold accounts in Switzerland.
In an apparent rebuttal to allegations levelled by India Against Corruption (IAC) activist Arvind Kejriwal of the government not pursuing cases of those mentioned in the list provided by France in 2011, the finance ministry said in a press release that the government had analysed the information and further action would be taken on case-to-case basis.
The statement said that foreign tax authorities had been contacted to obtain more information about "reported account holders".
Rejecting the demand of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Left to disclose names of those mentioned in the list provided by France, the finance ministry said: "The information received from the government of France is covered by the confidentiality clause under the Double Taxation Avoidance Convention (DTAC) between India and France and can be used only for the tax purposes specified therein."
The ministry's release did not mention the number of people in the list provided by France.
Kejriwal had said Friday that roughly 700 people had bank accounts in HSBC Bank in Geneva, Switzerland.
"Information was received in June 2011 by the government of India from the government of France relating to certain bank accounts reportedly held by certain individuals/non-individuals in a foreign bank," the ministry said.
It said appropriate action has been taken on the cases and further action including assessment, tax collection and levy of penalty will be taken based on the facts of each case.
The government said former finance minister Pranab Mukherjee had mentioned the government receiving information about foreign accounts in his reply to the debate on the adjournment motion in the Lok Sabha December last year and answers were given in the Rajya Sabha in August this year.
Kejriwal Friday accused some industrialists and a politician of holding money in Swiss banks. The allegations have been denied.
Kejriwal had added that all those whose names figure in the list of 700 should be raided and arrested if prima facie evidence is found that they sent their money abroad through hawala.
He had also demanded that top officials of HSBC Bank should be arrested for money laundering.