26 names: the tip of black money iceberg

Clearly, being Muslim in India redoubles a crime.

New Delhi: Compelled to name the 26 Swiss bank depositors (in a sealed cover) to the Supreme Court, the nation is deprived of their names of this tip of the iceberg which threaten to ultimately destroy the Indian economy. At stake is the 22.5 lakh crore rupees loot from India, according to the Sangh commentator Balbir K. Punj. The apex court terms this money as “simple and pure theft.”

Irked by the government’s stand, Justices Sudershan Reddy and SS Nijjar said, “we are talking about mind-boggling crime.” Pranab Mukherjee at a press conference on the Republic Day tried to defend the government stand of not disclosing the names and enumerated several reasons – niceties of international diplomacy, breach of confidentiality clause in treaties on double tax avoidance etc. The prime minister too added his own justifications for keeping the names close to the chest – informations were obtained from other governments only for tax-recovery purposes. These 26 names are from German government’s list of Liechtenstein banks. Whereas the larger list runs into hundreds of pages covering several European countries, especially Switzerland. The current estimates are as follows:

Germany: $5.4 billion
U.K.: 810 million to 11 billion
France: $1.3 billion
Italy: $6.7 billion
Greece: $48 billion
(Source: OECD)

This amount, a staggering sum of $500 billion or Rs 22.5 lakh crore, is almost half of India’s $1.3 trillion GDP. The 40 most preferred destinations for this loot are: Liechtenstein, Channel Islands, Bahamas, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Cayman Islands, Isle of Mann and Mauritius.

Even the tax-recovery plea does not hold water. Pune-based stud farm owner Hasan Ali Khan is being investigated by Enforcement Directorate and Income Tax department. Similarly, his associate Kashinath Tapuriah is also under scanner. While Ali has been served with a notice for 50,000 crores; Tapuriah has been asked for 20,000 crores. Nothing has been paid so far. Hasan Ali is seen enjoying life because he is sure that Indian authorities shall never be able to get the details of his income from the Swiss banks.

Interestingly, both the Supreme Court and the authorities are showing undue interest in Hasan Ali, who on apex court prodding, has now been charged even of terror crimes, while both remain silent about all others including the 26 names already provided by the German authorities. Clearly, being Muslim in India redoubles a crime.

Expressing annoyance, the SC bench asked the Solicitor General, “…. what privileges you are claiming for these names …. what is the big deal about disclosing their names?” The court was hearing a petition filed by senior advocate Ram Jethmalani and five others. It further asked, “The names of the individuals are before us. Why cannot we implead them in the case?”

This has given BJP a big pole to hit Congress for “patronising” criminals involved in various scams. Reminding the prime minister of his assurance in the Rajya Sabha in July 2009 that action had already started for getting back the money belonging to Indians in the Swiss banks, it wanted a clarification: “whether he chose to mislead the Parliament.” Rajiv Pratap Rudy, BJP spokesperson, accused the government of attempting to cover up the black money issue.

India can take pride that it surpasses other nations in the race. As the data (upto 2006) reveal:

India: 1400 billion dollars
Russia: 470 billion dollars
Britain: 390 billion dollars
Ukraine: 100 billion dollars
China: 96 billion dollars

I.e., the total of all these nations is far below the Indian figure. It is suggested that the government can follow the strategy adopted by the US government when it made an agreement with Swiss authorities to provide the list of 4450 US nationals. Convinced that the American nationals had violated national laws, the Swiss Parliament approved the disclosure of names. What BJP has been claiming is that black money trail may lead to Congress – the first family.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 April 2011 on page no. 6

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