New Delhi, Nov 27:
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley Thursday said that of the 28 accounts identified in the tax-haven of Liechtenstein, income tax proceedings have been concluded against 18 “illegal” account holders and cases filed against them.
“Of the 28 accounts in Liechtenstein on which Germany had information, 18 accounts were illegal (najaiz). We have concluded income tax proceedings, given the tax dues and the penalty. And cases have been filed against them,” Jaitley told the Lok Sabha in his reply to the debate in the lower house on illicit money stashed away by Indians abroad.
He continued refuting opposition charges that little was being done to get back illicit money stashed away by Indians abroad and maintained that a lot of ground has been covered and 250 people have conceded to having overseas bank accounts, while more names would come up as cases are filed.
He said that out of the 627 names of Indians holding bank accounts overseas, that were furnished to the Supreme Court in a sealed envelope, 427 had been identified. Out of that, he added, 250 had admitted to such accounts.
The finance minister said that as things stood now, the Swiss authorities have been persuaded to at least establish the veracity of any evidence that the Indian government and the special team manage to procure from various sources regarding these accounts.
Saying that with the Swiss authorities there had even been an agreement on the automatic exchange of information in real time on tax-evasion, Jaitley, however, said that the confidentiality clause, which bars public disclosure of account details, covered all types of such agreements.
“All tax treaties (entered into with countries)) have the confidentiality clause attached,” Jaitley said.
“The government is making efforts to see that the last tax-evader is brought to book and we won’t stop till then,” he added.
On Wednesday, the entire opposition in the Rajya Sabha came together against the government on the issue, with the Congress questioning Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s election promise.
Hitting out directly at the prime minister, Congress leader Anand Sharma said: “In all his pre-poll rallies, the prime minister said Rs.85 lakh crore was in banks abroad. Now the prime minister says he does not know about it.”
In the Lok Sabha, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said the government should “apologize” to the nation for making the “false promise” of bringing back black money stashed in foreign banks.