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Ideal time to join in crusade against tax havens
April, 18th 2009

The interim report of the task force set up by Bharatiya Janata Partys senior leader L.K. Advani on black money in tax havens abroad, says that India must first realise that this was the ideal time to act and join in the global crusade against secret banks and tax havens.

The report said:

We recommend that the BJP create a powerful public opinion, which would force those who do not support this measure to come around to support like British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was forced to do after the February G20 preparatory meeting in which he did not extend support for Germany and France.

India should stop being a silent spectator to the G20 efforts against secret banking and must become an actor, an active player and forthwith change the perception that it is not against secret banking and tax havens.

India must also urge the German government to provide details of the Indian names from the LGT bank secret records it has accessed from Liechtenstein. It must appoint a special ambassador to work with the G20 specifically to frame India friendly rules to expose secret banking.

The 16-page report said there was a dramatic change in the global atmosphere on tax havens since a year. Germany, in February 2008, got a secret CD of the LGT bank in Liechtenstein, which contained a long list of tax evaders, including the head of the German Post.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) published a list of tax havens and categorised them according to the level of non-cooperation. In February this year, the U.S. Inland Revenue Service forced the largest Swiss bank, UBS, to part with details of nearly 300 tax evaders and also pay a huge fine of $800 million.

The report referred to several estimates of Indian wealth in these tax havens. The media had reported that the amount could be as high as Rs. 70 lakh crore, while some other estimates pegged it at Rs. 25 lakh crore. Illicit monies were the dirty outcome of modern capitalism. But after the 9/11 attack, the U.S. realised that not just the buccaneers in business but even Osama Bin Laden could also hide his funds in secret havens and use them to bomb the world

 

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