Govt to reveal black money holders' names after cases filed

Court directs Centre to ensure stud farm owner does not escape the law

Making the government’s submission before a Bench headed by Justice B Sudershan Reddy, Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium said the names of all the persons who have stashed away illegal wealth in foreign banks will be revealed with the registration of cases against them. Subramanium said that show cause notices have already been served on these account holders.

This is the first time that the government has made a firm commitment over the vexed issue of some Indians having parked black money estimated to at $1 trillion in banks in Liechtenstein and other European countries.

Noted lawyer Ram Jethmalani and some former bureaucrats had filed a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking the court’s direction to the government to bring back black money.
Before adjourning the matter for further hearing on March 3, the Bench asked the government to ensure that Hasan Ali Khan, a Pune-based businessman accused of stashing money in foreign banks, did not run away from the process of law. “It’s your duty to ensure that he is available to face prosecution,” the court said.

On his part, Subramanium said Hasan was in India and the government was taking all necessary steps against him.

Senior advocate Anil Divan contended that the government was not taking effective steps to bring back the black money deposited in foreign banks.

Referring to an article which reported that letters rogatory have been issued to authorities in five countries — UAE, the UK, the US, Singapore and Hong Kong — seeking information regarding black money, he submitted that nothing more had been done in this regard.

Opposing Divan, Subramanium claimed that the government has taken “remarkable steps”  like as letters rogatory (letter of request by a court for collecting evidence to a foreign court) has been issued seeking information on black money.

Placing before the court a sealed envelope, Subramanium said all the information was contained in it.

‘Govt reluctant’

Divan had earlier alleged in the court that the government was reluctant in sharing information about Khan who has stashed away Rs 36,000 crore in UBS Bank in Switzerland.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has said investigations were on in the Hasan Ali matter and the case was being pursued both by the Enforcement Directorate and the Income Tax department. Mukherjee said that there were several cases involved against Ali, including a double passport case and avoidance of taxes and the ED had received information on three Swiss bank accounts allegedly held by him, where no amounts were left.

“One account where USD 60,000 were deposited, and next day the amount was withdrawn. There was no trace of that,” Mukherjee had said last month, adding that the government had seized some documents related to Ali’s foreign bank accounts that later turned out to be forged.

“On the basis of forged document no information can be given (by Swiss banks),” the minister had said.

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