The income-tax department is preparing to send another Letter Rogatory to Swiss authorities, seeking details of Pune-based stud farm owner Hasan Ali Khan’s Swiss Bank accounts . As part of this exercise, it has asked the Enforcement Directorate to provide a copy of the statements given to it by Khan, accused of siphoning off $8 billion to an unreported Swiss bank account. Along with the statement of Khan, the I-T department has also asked ED to part with a copy of the statement of Kashinath Tapuria, brother of Priyamvada Birla and a business associate of Khan.

According to ED officials, the statements given by Khan and Tapuria contain some details of the accounts they have in foreign banks, especially with UBS . The I-T department thinks these details can help them in their probe into the source of these funds.

The ED is expected to comply with the request sooner or later. Both ED and I-T department are probing into the source of funds Hasan Ali Khan had allegedly deposited in Swiss banks.

The Swiss authorities had rejected the first Letter Rogatory sent by the I-T department merely on technical grounds – not filing tax returns in India is not an offence under Swiss regulations. The rules governing the banking industry in Switzerland stipulate that information can be parted only if the offence committed in the foreign country is also an offence under Swiss laws.

However, the tax department will issue the second Letter Rogatory after it launches prosecution proceedings against Khan on the charge of evading tax. While not filing tax returns is not an offence in Switzerland, tax evasion is an offence in India as well as Switzerland. Therefore, prosecution in India for tax evasion is expected to fulfil the legal requirement for Swiss authorities to part with the information sought by the I-T department.

Hasan Ali Khan has been identified by the government as the India’s largest tax defaulter whose tax dues are about Rs 1 lakh crore including interest and penalty.


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June 2021