Black money probe: I-T dept attaches Rs 6,000 crore worth accounts, all from Mumbai

Mumbai(dna): The income-tax department has attached bank and demat accounts of 35 individuals, all from Mumbai, worth around Rs 6,000 crore, as part of its ongoing probe in the black money list provided by the French government in 2011.

Black money probe: I-T dept attaches Rs 6,000 crore worth accounts, all from Mumbai

Senior I-T officials told dna that the accounts were owned by a few politicians, diamond traders and non-resident Indians from Gulf and Southeast Asia. Accounts frozen are spread across private and public sector banks, names of which have not been disclosed.

The massive attachment of hefty accounts follows the recent meeting between the finance ministry and tax officials. The ministry had come down heavily on the department for the lackadaisical approach towards HSBC black money list as it is so far able to garner only Rs 237 crore.

The recently-concluded compliance window, which was initiated to bring unaccounted money stashed abroad and open between July and September, brought in only Rs 4,147 crore of black money as against the targeted Rs 10,000 crore.

Finance minister Arun Jaitley had then warned tax evaders that the government would take serious steps in bringing tax evaders to book.

Refusing to name the politicians and others involved, a senior tax official said all 35 accounts holders are from Mumbai, and that similar proceedings are underway in other parts of the country too.

“It is a part of the probe to secure any fund transfers. The accounts have been attached provisionally under Section 281(B) of the I-T Act 1961, in order to safeguard the interest of revenue,” said the official.

The shares and deposits held in the respective accounts have been prohibited from being transferred until further orders. However, credit of shares into the account will be allowed.

The government is still hung up on an old list while the new list comprises fresh names of around 1,700 Indians having a balance of Rs 25,420 crore. The government is also consistently getting new names from the French government and other countries following signing of tax treaties. For instance, this August, the Singapore government had shared the names of 400 Indians’ accounts having deposits above Rs 5 crore.

Tax experts are of the opinion that the authorities should not prolong the probe into such cases. A senior tax expert on the condition of anonymity told dna, “It’s the NRIs settled abroad and earned income overseas who are involved. The tax authorities should verify their name and respective accounts as soon as possible.”

The chartered accountants are however claiming that by targeting NRIs, the Modi government is dampening investment climate. “It’s against the fundamental rights,” said a chartered accountant, whose several clients received the I-T order.

Two NRIs based in Gulf countries whose accounts were attached by I-T department have filed a writ petition against the department in the Bombay High Court, seeking withdrawal of attachment order made by the tax sleuths. The hearing is scheduled for November 16. When asked for response, an I-T source told dna, “Indeed, it’s going to be a long battle for the department.”