June 2008

Vol 7 - No. 12
 

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Focus | June 2008

 


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Black Money Data Available for Asking

Liechtenstein, the sixth smallest country in the world, is landlocked between Austria and Switzerland. The rich from the US, the UK, Canada, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Ireland have smuggled their wealth to this tax haven and parked their black money here.

 

The rich from India are no different from the rest of the rich in the 'global village' of Liechtenstein.

 

Several countries have already used the opportunity to zero in on their citizens who have evaded taxes.

 

The list of hundreds of rich Indians who have black money parked in Liechtenstein could be made available to the government as the German government, which has obtained a list of account holders at Liechtenstein’s LTG Bank, is willing to part with the names.

Transparency International, India is concerned over the attitude of the Indian Government in seeking information from the German Government.

 

The Indian Chapter of Transparency International, an International not-for-profit organization, working towards reducing corruption, has urged the Government of India to take all necessary steps to seek the data that the German Government had offered, free of charge in February this year. 

 

Reacting to a report by one of the newspapers, Chairman, Transparency International India, Admiral (retd.) R H Tahiliani, former navy chief, said, “this money belongs to the people of India and it is possible that it has been tucked away in this distant country by those who have acquired it illegally and are now evading tax. There should be complete transparency and accountability about this money and it is for the Government to find this out and inform people”.

 

Earlier, German Government had offered to provide information on accounts to various nations, world over including India, without charging any fees. USA, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Canada, Italy, U.K, Ireland and other nations expressed interest in obtaining this data.

 

The Indian Government however has maintained a stoic silence over the issue and has not approached the German Government for looking into this data. It is alleged that this money belongs to the rich and powerful politicians, industrialists and stock brokers and that is why the reluctance on the part of Government of India, since the revelation of names could lead to the fall of Government.

 

Liechtenstein, like many other countries including Switzerland, St Kitts, Antigua and Bahamas, is a haven for moneyed people to hide their ill gotten wealth. The crown prince of this country is alleged to be angry with Germany for spearheading a crackdown on tax evasion investigation involving funds hidden away in his country’s vaults. It is being said that the German intelligence agency, BND, has details of more than 700 clients of the LTG Bank and German prosecutors are using this information to target hundreds of suspected tax evaders.  

 

Transparency International India, in a press release, state, "The Indian Ministry of Finance and PMO have however not shown much interest in finding out about those who have their lockers in the secret banks of Liechtenstein which prides itself of their banking system. India is a responsible member of various world forums and a time when we are talking of transparency and accountability, should it not be the duty of our Government to seek information and reveal the names of the people who have stashed away their ill gotten wealth abroad, in a bid to evade tax?

 

"Such secretive and non transparent tax havens can pose problems of terrorism since no one knows how these will be used. It’s a global threat and can be used any which way to harm the peace and harmony globally.

 

"More importantly, it is our money and people of India have a right to know about the details. It belongs to us and cannot be denied to us for long .Its time we all woke up and demand what is rightfully ours."

 

Suspecting that the government's chariness could stem from fears that influential politicians and industrialists might be compromised by the Liechenstein data, TI has, in a statement, said: "It is alleged that this money belongs to rich and powerful politicians, industrialists and stock brokers and that is why the reluctance on the part of government of India (to get details from Germany)."

Liechtenstein, like Switzerland, St Kitts, Canary Islands, Antigua and Bahamas, has been a haven for wealthy people to hide their ill-gotten wealth away from the prying eyes of tax authorities.

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