I-T dept in touch with whistleblower who leaked HSBC account details

NEW DELHI(PTI): The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) will take up all new names of Indians with Swiss bank accounts. The department will also seek details of the remaining account holders whose name were not published in media reports on Monday.

According to the report, 1,195 Indians, nearly double the 628 in the old list that was shared by the French government with India, figure in the HSBC list, with a total balance of Rs 25,420 crore.

“Necessary investigation as per provisions of law will be taken up in all new cases expeditiously,” said a CBDT press release.

According to CBDT, the I-T department is already in touch with the whistleblower, who apparently brought out the names of persons holding undisclosed bank accounts in HSBC, Switzerland.

He has been requested to share information with him in regard to undisclosed bank accounts of Indians in HSBC, Switzerland and other destinations.

The snoop wings of the Income-Tax department, CBDT and Enforcement Directorate (ED) attended the Special Investigation Team (SIT) meeting on black money to review the original 628 accounts in New Delhi on Monday. The meeting also reviewed the new accounts revealed by the report.

“We have asked the details of the other account holders also, apart from 100 names. Some of these names already figure in the earlier list with the government. We will be reviewing the new names and will definitely act on it,” said sources.

Sources in the panel said all agencies have been asked to take out possible information on new names and present it in the next SIT meeting.

SIT has to give a final report to the Supreme Court on black money by March 31, 2015.

“At present, we focus on Indian HSBC account holders whose cases are getting “time barred” by March 31″ sources added.

The new HSBC list discloses names of several prominent businessmen and Indian politicians, which includes former UPA minister Preneet Kaur, ex-Congress MP Annu Tandon, family members of late Congress minister and Gandhi family loyalist Vasant Sathe, and Narayan Rane, his wife and family (ex-Sena, now in Congress). A more direct link to the Sena is Smita Thackeray, daughter-in-law of Bal Thackeray.

The businesspersons mentioned in the list includes Ambani brothers, Naresh Goyal (of Jet Airways), Shravan Gupta (Emaar MGF), the Nandas (of Escorts), the Rahejas (builders and realtors) and several diamond traders. Some of the accounts are corporate accounts, others belong to Indians who may not be subject to Indian laws, and several others have minuscule balances in their accounts.

According to the latest data with CBDT and SIT, out of the 628 persons, 200 were either non-residents or non- traceable, leaving 428 cases of residents, which were found actionable. For these 428 actionable cases, the net amount of peak balance was about Rs 4,500 crore.

Up to December 31, 2014, assessments were completed in 128 out of 350 cases. Assessment proceedings are at an advanced stage in the remaining cases.

Out of the 128 cases in which assessments were completed, concealment penalty proceedings under section 271(1)(c) have been initiated in almost all cases.

Prosecution for wilful attempt to evade taxes and failure to furnish accounts and documents has started in about 60 cases have started etc. Show-cause notices before launching prosecutions have been issued in a large number of other cases. The department will start raising demand notices by March 15, 2015.

British Bank HSBC Holdings admitted failure by its Swiss subsidiary, in response to media reports that it helped wealthy customers dodge taxes and conceal millions of dollars of assets.

“We acknowledge and are accountable for past compliance and control failures,” HSBC said on Sunday.