Names Ambani brothers, Naresh Goyal, Dabur family members
Training its guns on black money stashed in Swiss banks, India Against Corruption (IAC) on Friday called for an immediate halt to operations of HSBC in India, alleging its involvement in money laundering and hawala.
At a packed press conference here, Arvind Kejriwal and lawyer Prashant Bhushan of IAC said their allegations were based on the list of 700 people who, they claimed, had accounts in HSBC’s Geneva branch. They said the names were in a CD given by the French Government to India in July 2011.
According to Kejriwal, it was a Congress leader who gave IAC some names on the list, which were cross-checked by them. The list, he said, included names of top corporates such as Mukesh Ambani, Anil Ambani, Naresh Goyal of Jet Airways, one Motech Software (said to be a Reliance company), three members of the Dabur family, Annu Tandon, Congress MP from Unnao and her husband, among others.
“Since the Income-Tax Department has raided 125 people from this list and three among them – P.S. Kalra, Vikram Dhirani and Praveen Sawhney – have admitted that they had Swiss bank accounts that had not been declared for taxation, one could reasonably assume that the information about the others would be correct,” he said.
Kejriwal alleged that the statements of the three people, copies of which were distributed at the conference, showed that HSBC “is openly and brazenly running a hawala racket in India.”
He said as per the statements of these three men, one just needed to contact HSBC in India to open a Swiss account. “They would send someone to your home, get forms filled up, take money in cash and the account would get opened in Geneva or Dubai….”
“Perhaps it is easier to open a Swiss bank account than one in State Bank of India,” he said, and added that this raised questions about terror, drug and hawala money easily flowing to and fro, threatening the country’s economic sovereignty.
No comments: HSBC
HSBC Bank in India declined to comment on IAC’s allegations even as it acknowledged taking note of it. The bank said it cannot comment on the specific details of the allegations that have been made, which relate to issues in the past. “HSBC takes compliance with the law, wherever it operates, very seriously,” it said in a statement, adding that group was committed to investing in and growing its operations in India.
Cong rubbishes Charge
IAC accused the Manmohan Singh Government and former Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, of “misleading Parliament and shielding big names” and demanded that IT raids be conducted on all the 700 names on the said list.
Meanwhile, the Congress rubbished Kejriwal’s charges. Party spokesperson Rashid Alvi said the UPA Government had initiated a number of steps against black money.
Serious, says BJP
The BJP, however said the allegations were “serious”. “The Congress is not serious in addressing the menace of black money,” party spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy said.