The Income Tax department has started investigating 782 people suspected of having stashed away unaccounted wealth in accounts with the HSBC Bank in Geneva. A senior official with the department, on condition of anonymity, said the newly created Directorate of Criminal Investigation has started sending notices to individuals, seeking explanation on the source of funds in these HSBC Bank accounts in Geneva. The information regarding these people, however, did not come from the Swiss government but was provided by the French, the official said.
Reacting to the news, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said, “As and when the information is received, investigation starts, prosecution takes place and matter comes to the court.”
“Then, as per the existing treaty terms, we can reveal the names in cases of prosecution by the Income Tax department”, Mukherjee told reporters.
The list of 782 people allegedly includes names of businessmen and a few members of parliament.
In a meeting with economic editors in October, the finance minister said that the government had received information from France about Rs.400 crore unaccounted money in as many as 69 overseas accounts of Indians and had recovered Rs.30 crore in taxes from them.
Mukerjee said the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) with France had helped India extract information regarding Indians having foreign bank accounts.
The government has been under pressure to act against people who have parked unaccounted money in various tax havens across the world. It had set up several bodies, including the Directorate of Criminal Investigation under the aegis of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), to unravel secret bank accounts abroad.