Congress allowed billionaires to stash money abroad: Buddhadeb

Saturday, February 5, 2011

MALDA - In the wake of media reports about 18 Indians stashing money in a German bank, West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee Saturday accused the Congress-led central government of allowing people to keep their illegal wealth in foreign accounts.

Speaking at a Left Front rally in this northern West Bengal town, Bhattacharjee said: “The country today boasts of many billionaires. These people have stashed huge money not only in Indian but also in foreign banks.

“The Congress has allowed them to stash the money illegally. These people owe allegiance to the Congress. You cannot imagine the amount of black money that has been kept in foreign bank by these people,” he said.

Bhattacharjee’s comment came amidst the Congress led United Progressive Alliance(UPA) government finding itself in a tight corner on the black money issue.

After a weekly magazine Friday published bank account details of 18 Indians who have stashed their wealth in a Liechtenstein bank to evade taxes, Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee Saturday said 17 people have been served with a legal notice.

“We have received a few names. We have already served notices on 17 people and prosecution has begun. But the government suo motu can’t reveal the names. According to the treaty, we can only use the information for taxation purposes,” Mukherjee told reporters in Kolkata.

He said the names would be revealed in court when the matter comes up for prosecution.

A public interest litigation (PIL) has been filed in the Supreme Court by former law minister Ram Jethmalani seeking that the government be made to recover the black money from foreign bank accounts

Mukherjee’s remarks follow his statement last month that secrecy clauses in treaties with other countries were preventing the government from disclosing the names of Indians with black money abroad, estimated at $462 billion to $1.4 trillion.

The central government has been drawing flak from all quarters for its refusal to publish the names of those alleged to have stashed black money in foreign tax havens.

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