Black money row: Govt. has nothing to hide, says Mukherjee

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

NEW DELHI - After being criticized by the Supreme Court and the Opposition for its handling of black money deposited by industrialists and others in foreign bank accounts, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday said the government has nothing to hide, and added that India cannot violate secrecy laws to reveal names in the Swiss trail.

“No information can be made available unless there is legal framework and no sovereign country is going to share information on black money. There is a way to get information when Income Tax authorities decide to prosecute offenders,” Mukherjee told a press conference at Shastri Bhavan here.

“We cannot break any international commitments on black money holders because governments will not be ready to part information with us. Swiss government has not shared information on black money with any government so far. The UBS Bank shared data with the US after entering an out of the court settlement under which no prosecution was pursued,” he added.

Mukherjee further said: “I have no intention or authority to know the names of those who stashed money outside that have come to the government’s hand. India has amended DTAA with 23 countries which will enable us to seek banking information.”

Mukherjee, who is heading a Group of Minister (GoM) appointed by the government to suggest legislative and administrative steps to deal with the menace of black money, further outlining the government’s strategy to tackle the black money issue said the Government has chalked out a five-pronged strategy to combat the menace of illicit funds generated both as a result of tax evasion and corruption.

“Government has appointed a group to look into the possibility of amnesty scheme to bring out black money. The government has constituted a multi-disciplinary committee to get studies conducted to estimate the amount of illicit fund generated by. We have formulated a 5-pronged strategy which consists of joining the global crusade of black money creating an appropriate legislative framework, setting up institutions for dealing with illicit funds, developing systems for implementation and imparting skills to the manpower for effective action,” he said.

“Various estimates of black money are unverifiable assumptions and approximations. We have detected undisclosed income of Rs 15,000 crore in the last 18 months. India has started receiving information of Indians who have generated income outside the country under double taxation avoidance agreements,” he added.

The Supreme Court had earlier criticized the Government of India for its handling of black money deposited by industrialists and others in foreign bank accounts.

The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, had earlier said there was no instant solution to bring back black money stashed in foreign banks and that information with the government cannot be made public due to treaty obligations.

“There is no instant solution to bring back what is called black money. We have got some information and that has been provided to us for use in the collection of due taxes,” he had added.

According to the data provided by the Swiss bank, India has more black money than rest of the world combined.

UK has 390 billion dollars in black money, Russia has 470 billion dollars and India tops the list with almost 1500 billion dollars. (ANI)

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