Ratify UN convention against corruption: BJP demands

Friday, January 28, 2011

NEW DELHI - The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Friday termed as a “mere eyewash” Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s statement about steps to recover black money stashed abroad and called upon the government to take immediate steps to ratify the UN convention against corruption.

In a statement, BJP vice-president Shanta Kumar said the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government was deliberately mixing the issue of black money with tax-evasion.

He said that the huge amount kept in Swiss banks by Indians had been termed by the Swiss government as stolen property and is regarded by the authorities there as amount collected through illegal and corrupt practices.

Referring to Mukherjee’s outlining steps being taken by the government to get the names of Indians with money stashed abroad, Kumar said it was an utopian agenda which would not fetch any fruitful result for the country.

He said that UN convention against corruption was the only international legal instrument to recover the money from tax havens and India was among the few countries which had still not ratified it despite signing it.

He said some countries, which had ratified the treaty, had been able to get some of the money stashed abroad and added that the Swiss representative had declared in the UN General Assembly last year that his government was ready to cooperate with the countries whose illicit money was lying in Swiss banks.

He said that Article 51 to 54 of the Convention binds member countries to share the information of the illicit amount kept in their banks and since Switzerland had also ratified the Convention, it would be legally binding on the Swiss government to disclose the names of bank account holders in the country. He urged the government to immediately ratify the UN Convention.

He said Mukherjee had made no mention of the convention in his statement and even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had not replied to his letters on the issue.

“Even the prime minister did not bother to reply to my letters, in which I had asked the government to justify why India is not initiating the ratification process despite the fact that 126 member countries had already ratified the convention” Kumar added.

Referring to the case of Pune businessman Hasan Ali, Kumar said he was served income tax notice in 2007 after a raid on his residences across the country.

“It seems a lenient view taken by the government on his fake passport case was due to his political links with the ruling party,” he alleged.

He said ten accounts of worth one lakh dollars in Swiss banks were also detected and a notice to deposit Rs.40,000 crore as tax was issued on Khan.

“The fact had also been confessed by the UPA government in Rajya Sabha on 4th August, 2009. The UPA government had deliberately delayed the proceedings against Khan to facilitate him to withdraw the amount kept in Swiss banks,” he said.

Demanding immediate action to seize bank accounts of Khan and his accomplices, he said foreign accounts of the businessman were a concern for the nation.

“Recent reports on the missing Swiss bank accounts of Khan was a concern for nation as he (Khan) had established links with Adnan Khashoggi, a known international arms dealer,” Kumar said.

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