The government on Tuesday denied reports that some members of Parliament have been summoned for keeping secret accounts in HSBC Bank at Geneva. The finance ministry, though, acknowledged that it had received information from various banks abroad about undisclosed income of certain Indians. Based on that, notices were being to people involved in black-money cases.
Basically, the ministry refuted truth in press reports on Tuesday that the Central Board of Direct Taxes had been asked to initiate prosecution based on investigations relating to banking information received from overseas. It has also been reported that summons have been issued to some Members of Parliament. This information is factually incorrect and is therefore denied, it said in a statement.
A senior finance ministry official told Business Standard that the department had already initiated action based on information received from various banks in Europe.
It is learnt that India has got information from France and Germany on secret accounts of some prominent people. The Directorate of Criminal Investigation has started sending notices to such people, and that it would reveal their names only in the court. The names cannot be revealed before the prosecution, as per the Indias treaty with the Swiss government.
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, when asked, said prosecution would take place and the matter would come to the court as and when investigation starts after receiving information. Then, as per the existing treaty terms, we can reveal the names in cases of prosecution by the Income Tax department, he added.
The ministry has reacted to media reports that summonses were issued to three MPs each from Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Kerala to appear for questioning at the Delhi office of Directorate of Criminal Investigation and explain source of funds allegedly parked in Geneva accounts.
The government, under attack from various quarters for not doing enough to crack down on tax havens, has amended the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) with 81 countries. Indian authorities have made specific requests in 333 cases to obtain information from foreign jurisdictions. It has obtained over 9,900 pieces of information obtained regarding suspicious transactions by Indian citizens from several countries. They are now under different stages of processing and investigation.
Under the DTAA with France, India has received some information regarding its citizens having bank accounts in that European country. In 69 cases, the taxpayers have admitted to the unaccounted income of Rs 397.17 crore. Taxes of Rs 30.07 crore have also been paid. A revised DTAA with Switzerland will now allow India to obtain banking information from the tax haven in specific cases for a period starting from April 1 this year.