A day after activist Arvind Kejriwal named several individuals and entities who he said had parked black money abroad, the finance ministry said it had taken appropriate action on the list of Indian nationals who had accounts in tax havens, as per details shared by the French government.
The ministry said Parliament had been given the correct information on this matter.
Kejriwal alleged on Friday that several individuals and entities on the the list of 700 names of Swiss bank account-holders provided by the French had not been prosecuted, and that the government had kept Parliament in the dark.
“Information received from the Government of France has been analysed and investigations into the information have been undertaken by the different jurisdictional authorities under the Income Tax Act 1961. Investigations in the matter are under progress including (those) with the foreign tax authorities,” the finance ministry said in a statement issued on Saturday.
The ministry also said that the necessary “reference to this matter was made by the then finance minister (Pranab Mukherjee) during the course of the debate on an adjournment motion in the Lok Sabha on 14.12.2011. Subsequently, answers to questions on this matter were furnished in the Rajya Sabha on 23.08.2012.”
Kejriwal named industrialists Mukesh Ambani, Anil Ambani and Naresh Goyal, Congress MP from Unnao Annu Tandon and her late husband Sandeep, three members of the Burman family that owns Dabur, and Yashovardhan Birla, head of the Yash Birla group as people with illegal Swiss bank accounts. All have denied the charges.
The finance ministry has consistently maintained that such information was confidential, and could only be used to levy punitive taxes if the charges were proved. On Saturday, it reiterated that “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 double taxation conventions that about a 100 major countries have signed with each other aim to block individuals and companies from slipping through tax networks. India has said the conventions were being made tougher to allow for exchange of detailed information between tax authorities.
Government sources on Saturday said that they were looking into HSBC’s alleged money laundering operations from the point of view of terror financing. They said that relevant agencies like the Financial Intelligence Unit were looking into reports that funds were being