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Though facing charges of inaction on black money, the Government has reiterated that it will not make public the names mentioned in the list provided by the French Government in June 2011.

The Finance Ministry also remained silent on specific allegations of money laundering made against foreign bank HSBC.

On Friday, India Against Corruption (IAC) activist Arvind Kejriwal had claimed that around Rs 6,000 crore was lying in 700 accounts of the Geneva branch of a bank. He had also made public the names of some prominent corporates that he said were in the list with the Government.

On Saturday, the Department of Revenue, in a 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 (DTAC) between India and France and can be used only for the tax purposes specified therein.”

Reacting to allegations of Government inaction on the information, the statement said that investigations in the matter are on, including with the foreign tax authorities to obtain more information with regard to the reported account holders.

Action has been taken on these cases and further action including assessment, tax collection and the levy of penalty will be taken according to the provisions of the Income-Tax Act, 1961 and based on the facts of each case, it said.

In June 2011, the Government had received information from the French Government relating to bank accounts reportedly held by certain individuals/non-individuals in a foreign bank.

On December 14, then Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, responding to a debate on an adjournment motion on the issue, had said, “There is a demand that we publish the names. But what will happen? It will have its impact on the industry, on the investment, and on the reputation of the people.”

On August 23, Minister of State for Finance S.S. Palanimanikam, in response to a question in the Rajya Sabha, had also said that investigations had led to detection of undisclosed income of Rs 565 crore, and that taxes amounting to Rs 181 crore had already been realised.

(This article was published on November 10, 2012)
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