I-T dept to initiate prosecution action in HSBC Geneva cases

The Income Tax department is mulling to initiate prosecution action for concealment of income against those black money hoarders whose names have allegedly figured in the classified list of account holders in HSBC bank Geneva.

The department, after issuing summons and conducting searches in few cases, will now send to respective assessing officers the names of those entities who have either paid the taxes or have agreed to pay tax on the stashed funds, which came to light only after the department got hold of the list.

"On the lines of a similar action taken with regard to individuals whose names were found on the LGT Bank of Liechtenstein, the department is mulling to initiate prosecution action in these cases where information of such huge income was hidden from I-T authorities," a top I-T official said.

Prosecution under the I-T Act can range from imprisonment and penalty of varying levels.
"However, these entities have begun requesting I-T authorities not to launch prosecution against them, a final view will be taken after a nod from the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT)," the official said.

However, according to official sources, a number of cases under this list are still being pursued. India has obtained data of over 700 HSBC accounts from the French government.

In 80 cases till now, the department has detected undisclosed income of Rs 438 crore and taxes of Rs 135 crore have been realised so far.

In this context, the government has already imposed a penalty of Rs 24.66 crore on 18 individuals who have bank accounts with LGT Bank of Liechtenstein on the basis of information provided by German authorities.

Germany had last year provided the names of some Indians, having secret accounts in Liechtenstein's LGT Bank. Officials of the enforcement and investigation wings of the I-T department have carried out a number of searches and visits in the last four months on these entities based in Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad and few other cities, who have admitted to holding accounts and stashing funds in the foreign bank.

In cases where the individuals have denied holding secret foreign bank accounts, the department has decided to re-open the past tax returns of such individuals in Mumbai and Delhi among others.

India, according to the Finance Ministry, has so far received over 9,900 pieces of information from several countries regarding suspicious transactions by Indian citizens, which are now under different stages of processing and investigation.

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