“But it is covered by confidentiality clause and can be used only for tax purposes”
A day after India Against Corruption activist Arvind Kejriwal charged the government with inaction over black money allegedly stashed away in HSBC in Switzerland, the Finance Ministry sought to set the record straight, saying “appropriate” action was taken and further investigations were in progress to obtain more information about the account-holders. Without naming any bank or account-holder, the Ministry said on Saturday: “Information received from the Government of France has been analysed, and investigations into the information have been undertaken by the different jurisdictional authorities under the Income Tax Act, 1961.”
The statement, issued on behalf of the Department of Revenue, pointed out that investigations were in progress, including by the foreign tax authorities, to obtain more information. “Appropriate action has been taken in these cases and further action, including assessment, tax collection and levy of penalty, will be taken as per the provisions of the Income Tax Act, 1961, and based on the facts of each case.”
At a press conference here on Friday, Mr. Kejriwal, along with lawyer Prashant Bhushan, had alleged that the government did not act on the information provided by the French government with regard to 700 account-holders in HSBC, Geneva.
The IAC activists also named a few top industrialists, among others, claiming that they had parked huge sums with the Swiss bank, a charge they denied.
Seemingly alluding to Mr. Kejriwal’s allegations, the Ministry’s statement merely said that in June 2011, the government received from France information relating to certain bank accounts reportedly held by some individuals/non-individuals in a foreign bank. “Reference to this matter was made by the then Finance Minister during the debate on an adjournment motion in the Lok Sabha on 14.12. 2011. Subsequently, answers to questions were furnished in the Rajya Sabha on 23.08.2012.”
Furthermore, explaining why information on taxation matters pertaining to black money could not be placed in the public domain, the statement said: “It would be pertinent to point out that the information received from the Government of France is covered by the confidentiality clause under the Double Taxation Avoidance Convention between India and France and can be used only for the tax purposes specified therein.”