File cases in foreign black money case, demands Advani

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

NEW DELHI - Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani Tuesday demanded that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) should register a case against the people who had stashed black money abroad to facilitate a continuous investigation.

Addressing a press conference at his residence along with other NDA leaders including Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal and Janata Dal-United leader and NDA convener Sharad Yadav, Advani said: “As the investigations proceed, this may facilitate many specific FIRs and prosecutions, but still continue as the umbrella FIR, which will facilitate the continuance of the campaign against black money.”

Releasing the second report of a party task force on Indian black money abroad in secret banks and tax havens, Advani demanded a law making the government the beneficiary of all the money, assets and accounts held abroad by Indian nationals. On the basis of this, India can ask countries like Switzerland, where secret banking exists, to disclose the money held by them, he contended.

Endorsing the task force’s suggestion that leaders of political parties and MPs should declare that they or their relatives do not hold any undisclosed wealth abroad, Advani said that lawmakers from NDA would make such declarations and authorise the government to seize any illegal money discovered in their names abroad.

Noting the apex court has characterised the amounts stashed away as “theft” and “plunder”, he said: “The way Supreme Court is pursuing the issue pro-actively, the country expects the issue will reach its logical conclusion.”

The apex court has demanded an action taken report on all “faceless Indians who had moved their ill-gotten money overseas” and not treating it as merely tax avoidance, Advani said.

He said NDA considered the issue on Jan 6 and written a comprehensive letter to the prime minister. No reply to this has been received yet, he added.

Noting that Global Financial Integrity, a global NGO committed to financial transparency, has said that Indian monies stashed away abroad consist of “tax evasion, corruption, bribery and kickbacks and criminal activities”, Advani said: “Simply put, black money and its being stashed abroad are unpatriotic acts and they tantamount to financial terrorism,”

He said the report states how not just powerful countries like the US, but even smaller countries like Philippines, Peru, Nigeria and Tunisia could move the global opinion and the Swiss government to assist them in recovering hundreds of billions of dollars stashed away by their corrupt leaders.

“As a contrast in India, even well known cases of bribery and money laundering, including the Liechtenstein Bank disclosures, the hawala affair of Hasan Ali, the Quattrocchi case and the alleged foreign account maintained in the name of a former prime minister of India belonging to the Congress party have not been investigated, or investigation into which are being stymied,” he said.

He said despite the United Progressive Alliance government declaring through in the president’s address to parliament in 2009, that it will vigorously pursue all necessary steps in coordination with the countries concerned, no significant progress has been made.

“The government of India has not even ratified the UN Convention against Corruption which provides for procedures to recover lost wealth,” he said.

The task force members included S. Gurumurthy, a chartered accountant, Ajit Doval, former director, Intelligence Bureau, R. Vaidyanathan, professor of finance at Indian Institute of Bangalore and Mahesh Jethmalani, a senior advocate.

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