Sleuths of the enforcement and investigation wings of the I-T department carried out searches in the last two months on 22 individuals based in Delhi who have admitted to holding accounts and stashing funds in the foreign bank.
According to initial estimates, the undisclosed income of these accounts could be around Rs 500 crore. The information was extracted on the basis of details of over 700 HSBC accounts received from the French government.
"Rs 18 crore has already been remitted to the department after the searches were launched. The I-T department is preparing final search and seizure documents in all the cases and has asked these tax payers to provide their documents related to their finances in the last two assessment years," top sources in the department said.
Out of the 22 individuals, none are politicians but have businesses of various types.
The I-T department's special wing, working on the case, has got 'on paper' admission of a total of Rs 80 crore as unpaid taxes by these individuals. The action was taken after the department received the list of these 22 individuals from the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) some time back, which has supposedly sourced it from some channels related to HSBC bank Geneva. The sources said the defaulters have agreed to pay Rs 80 crore as taxes.
The department, meanwhile, is also tracking few individuals who are shown to be residents of Delhi and nearby areas in the classified list but are not traceable now.
According to sources, a select team of I-T sleuths have been conducting searches across Delhi in the last two months armed with warrants issued by the competent authority but the searches did not yield 'on the spot' results.
The I-T teams then asked the individuals about their names figuring in the foreign bank and the amounts being reflected against their names. After a little revelation of facts, the individuals accepted to have stashed the funds abroad without the knowledge of Indian tax authorities.
The department then asked them to pay their due taxes or else face prosecution proceedings and re-assessment of their returns.
A top official said the searches were conducted under heavy cover of secrecy as the buzz of such a list becoming public was already there and those who had their accounts in foreign banks had a gut feeling of an impending action against them by enforcement agencies.
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has earlier said that the government has received information from France about the overseas bank accounts of Indians.
"In 69 cases, the taxpayers have admitted to unaccounted income of Rs 397.17 crore. Taxes of Rs 30.07 crore have also been paid," he had said.
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.