NEW DELHI: The Centre on Wednesday submitted the list of 627 Indians who have accounts in HSBC Bank, Geneva, to the Supreme Court, which has ordered a probe into suspected black money to be completed by March next year.
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi filed the documents in two sealed covers before a bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu containing the names of yet account holders and correspondences with various countries over the probe conducted so far in one envelope, while the other had the status report of the steps taken by the government.
The court did not open the report and said the envelopes would be opened by Chairman M B Shah and Vice Chairman Arijit Pasayat, both former judges of the Supreme Court, who are part of the court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT), and decide on the future course of action.
It asked the SIT to conduct the probe on the account holders and submit its status report as expeditiously as possible by November-end.
The Centre submitted that almost half of the account holders are resident Indians who could be prosecuted under Income Tax laws and the rest of them are NRIs. Some of the account holders have already admitted to having accounts and having paid taxes.
Rohatgi said details of account holders are from 2006, supplied by the French government to the Centre in 2011. Most transactions in those accounts took place during 1999-2000 and the last date for completion and assessment in all these cases is March 31, 2015. He further clarified that the I-T Act has been amended and now the prosecution for tax evasion can be initiated up to 16 years of commission of the offence. The data received from French authorities was classified as ‘stolen data’ by Swiss authorities, who initially refused to help.
However, HSBC Bank said that if the Indian authorities get a no-objection certificate from the account holders, then it would share the details. About 50-60 account holders gave their consent.
As Rohatgi gave the court the list of names, the bench asked about the information that the government had received from Germany in March 2009. German tax authorities had given 26 names. Of these, prosecution has been launched against 18, while the others were found to hold genuine accounts.
Rohatgi said the Centre was open to any probe, but its only request was that nothing should be “done to impede our ability to get further information on black money”.