HSBC says it works as per law; accused term hawala charges 'baseless'

The HSBC bank on Friday remained non committal on the charges levelled against it by activist Arvind Kejrwal.

“HSBC Bank in India notes certain allegations were made today. The bank cannot comment on the specific details of the allegations which relate to issues in the past,” it said.

“HSBC takes compliance with the law wherever it operates. 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,” the bank clarified in a statement.

The BJP spokesperson also said: “A scandal a day, volumes of corruption growing astronomically; of course these were not things you (UPA) promised in your manifesto but you have succeeded in (doing).”

The Ambani brothers, Mukesh and Anil, and Congress MP Anu Tandon, who were named by Kejriwal, denied holding accounts in the HSBC.

Tandon told reporters that the allegations are “completely baseless and defamatory”.  “I had gone to the Congress meeting and have just learnt of the allegations…I feel sad that instead of doing something to benefit the nation, we are speaking about lowly matters,” the Unnao MP said.

However, she said that she will not drag Kejriwal to the court as “I don’t want to waste my time responding to such charges”.

Responding to Kejriwal’s charge that Mukesh and Anil had stashed Rs 100 crore each in two separate accounts in HSBC, an official spokesperson of Mukesh Ambani said neither Reliance Industries Limited nor Mukesh Ambani “have or had any illegitimate accounts anywhere in the world”.
 
RIL partly ‘admits’

However, the RIL company virtually admitted to part of the allegation when the spokesman said that “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”.

Anil headed Reliance Group rubbished Kejriwal’s allegations in a separate statement. “Mr Anil D Ambani had no bank accounts with HSBC in Geneva,” it said.  The group further said it is “regrettable that such baseless allegations are being made by IAC at the behest of vested interests”.

Jet Airways said that owner Naresh Goyal was entitled to have a bank account outside the country as he was an NRI since January 1991. “There is no account in the name of  Naresh Goyal,” the release said.

“Goyal received a routine enquiry letter from the Income Tax Department regarding a bank account at HSBC Geneva of M/s Tailwinds Ltd, a company based in the Isle of Man,” the statement said and added that they had replied to I-T notice satisfactorily.

The Burman brothers of Dabur group on Friday said that they had opened accounts in foreign banks when they were NRIs and were legally allowed to do so.

Rejecting allegations made by Arvind Kejriwal at a press conference in which he had accused HSBC Geneva of money laundering and that Burman brothers had accounts there, a statement issued by Dabur India said: “It is unfortunate that every person having a foreign bank account is being painted with the same brush.

“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,” it added.

Claiming that the money transactions has been made out of the declared and tax-assessed incomes received in India, the statement said the amounts have been officially remitted from India through official banking channels and as per applicable FEMA guidelines.

“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,” the statement said.

Probe allegations, demands BJP

Shorty after Arvind Kejriwal on Friday ‘exposed’ the black money deposited in a bank by top industrialists, the BJP demanded a thorough investigation into the issue and slammed the UPA government for not taking action in this regard, reports DHNS from New Delhi.

Kejriwal released a list of perons who had accounts in the HSBC bank in which they allegedly hoarded black money. He also accused the UPA government and former finance minister Pranab Mukherji of not taking action against top businessmen.

Claiming that it was the BJP which had first raised the issue of black money being siphoned off to foreign banks, BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman demanded the government to explain what it has done to fight the menace.

Demanding a probe into the operations of HSBC bank in the country, she said: “If the government cannot explain what action they have taken against black money, we demand they investigate this HSBC affair.”

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