Addressing a press conference, Kejriwal and lawyer Prashant Bhushan alleged that around R6,000 crore black money was lying in 700 accounts of the banks Geneva branch. They claimed that people who had deposited small amounts of money in the bank were raided but big fish like Mukesh and Anil Ambani, Naresh Goyal (Jet Airways), Tandon and Burmans (Anand, Pradeep and Ratan) of Dabur were let off at the governments behest.
The activists claimed the Ambani brothers had R100 crore each and Reliance Groups Motech Software R2,100 crore, late Sandeep and Annu Tandon R125 crore each, Naresh Goyal R80 crore and Daburs Burman brothers R25 crore.
He claimed these were some of the people in the list of around 700 having accounts in HSBC as of 2006.
Denying the allegations, HSBC said: HSBC Bank in India notes certain allegations made today. The Bank cannot comment on the specific details of the allegations that have been made, which relate to issues in the past. HSBC takes compliance with the law, wherever it operates, very seriously. With a new senior global leadership team and a new strategy in place since last year, HSBC continues to take concrete steps to strengthen compliance, risk management and culture. India is a key strategic market for HSBC. The group remains committed to investing in and growing its operations in the country.
Rejecting the charges, a Burman family spokesperson said: We wish to state that these accounts were opened by the Burman family members when they were NRIs, and were legally allowed to open such accounts. The amount being referred to in the media, pertaining to these accounts, has been officially remitted from India through official banking channels and as per applicable Fema guidelines. These amounts have been sent out of the declared and tax assessed incomes received in India. The complete details regarding the remittances have been voluntarily, and as per law, filed with the income tax department, and appropriate taxes paid as applicable. Therefore it is unfortunate that every person having a foreign bank account is being painted with the same brush. At Dabur, we are committed to the highest standards of corporate governance, and encourage ethical behaviour at all levels. Moral and ethical standards are cornerstones of our group's value system and we nurture these at all times.
Similarly, rejecting the charges, Reliance Industries said: Neither Reliance Industries nor Mukesh Ambani have or had any illegitimate accounts anywhere in the world. RIL has business interests in several countries with turnover of thousands of crores in rupees. As a part of their normal business, these international subsidiaries of RIL deal with several global banks including HSBC. These accounts are fully compliant with all regulations and are disclosed in their appropriate jurisdictions and in India. The continued tirade of baseless allegations being made by IAC against us appears to be instigated by vested interests.
A spokesperson for Anil Ambani while denying the allegations said: Anil D Ambani had no bank accounts with HSBC in Geneva. It is regrettable that such baseless allegations are being made by IAC at the behest of vested interests.
Rejecting allegations, Jet Airways said there was no account in the name of its chairman Naresh Goyal in HSBC Bank, Geneva, though he is entitled to have bank accounts outside India as he is an NRI. ...There is no account in the name of Naresh Goyal in the Swiss bank as has been alleged. Besides, Naresh Goyal has been an NRI since January 1991. He is entitled to have bank accounts outside India. The suggestion that there has been any unaccounted money stashed away in Swiss accounts is entirely false, a statement issued by Jet Airways said.
The two activists of India Against Corruption (IAC) also alleged that the UPA government under Manmohan Singh was sold out and it is the biggest danger as it was surrendering the economic sovereignty of the country. They expressed fears that terrorists in Pakistan or criminals could exploit the method of money transfer in HSBC for their activities in India.
Though they do not have official documents with regard to the businessmen holding accounts, Kejriwal claimed they checked with several sources after receiving an input from a Congress leader, who was inducted into the government in the recent Cabinet reshuffle.
He also provided statements of three persons, whose names appeared in the list and questioned by income tax officials, in which they have told interrogators that HSBC facilitated them opening accounts without them going to Geneva.
The money was handed to over to an agent here and whenever, they wanted to withdraw they used to contact a person in Geneva and the amount was delivered in India, he alleged.
There is no physical transfer of money. This is money laundering. The statements by the three persons reveal that HSBC is openly and brazenly running a hawala racket in India... These statements are enough to arrest HSBC officials. Their operations should be immediately suspended as it is a fit case for charging them under sedition and waging war against India, Kejriwal said.
Alleging that only about 125 of the 700 persons named in the list were raided, Kejriwal sought to question the rationale behind the pick and choose policy of the government in excluding the big fish from the raids.
Denying the allegations, Tandon, who was the managing director of Motech Software, said: You go and ask him on what basis he is making such allegations. I don't think he has anything to prove this.