Wednesday, 29 October 2014

LIVE Black money: Back to square one, all facts were already known to us, says SIT chief

5.00 pm: Justice M B Shah says the list given by BJP government is same as the one submitted last June
In an exclusive interview with CNN IBN, Special Investigation Team (SIT) chairman former Justice M B Shah said that the developments in the black money case in the last few days are insignificant.
"We are back to square one. The government has submitted the same list which was submitted to us last June. All the facts that have been revealed in the black money list were already known to the SIT," said the Justice Shah.
But the SIT chief also asserted that it does not seem that the government is trying to protect anyone. Justice Shah said the report will be ready in time.
4:00 pm: Kejriwal raps Modi government
The  Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) today accused the government of sparing the "big fishes" holding black money abroad.
AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal said the revelations of black money account holders should not be selective. "There should not be selective revelation of names. The big fishes are being let off," he told the media. Kejriwal onTuesday moved an application in the Supreme Court seeking to be heard in the black money case. The former Delhi chief minister claimed he had personal knowledge of some people who have stashed black money in foreign banks.
Meanwhile, the SC directed that the sealed envelopes containing 627 names, including correspondence with the French government, be given to Special Investigation Team (SIT) chairman Justice M.B. Shah and vice chairman Justice Arijit Pasayat. The SIT was set up by the apex court July 4, 2011.
The court said the SIT will move into the matter in accordance with the law.
All the 627 accounts are at HSBC Bank in Geneva - the details of which India got from the French government. These are also known as stolen data and when the Indian government approached the Swiss authorities for assistance, they refused to help, saying that they don't deal with stolen data. However, HSBC Bank said that if the Indian authorities get an NOC from the account holders, then it would share the details. As a consequence, about 50-60 account holders gave their consent with NOC.
Rohatgi told the court that the government of India has only one request that care should be taken that nothing should impede in getting information from these countries and others on foreign accounts in future. Directing further hearing of the matter Dec 3, the court said that the SIT team will submit its status report on the steps taken by it in pursuance to the list of 627 account holders.
1. 10 pm: No credit to FM for revealing names of black money account holders, says Ram Jethmalani
Ram Jethmalani, who raked up the black money issue in the Supreme Court, said that submission of names is a "great development but the credit goes to SC not the Finance Ministry or AG."
"They have to give the names to SIT, investigation should not be left to officers or government," he added.
11. 30 am: Will SC order impact other tax treaties?
According to a Times of India report, the Supreme Court's directive on sharing the names of overseas account holders may impact other tax treaties.
"Any move to make the names public without prosecution may hamper signing of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) with the US, which contains a confidentiality clause," notes the ToI report.
What the AG said:
11:10 am Following the Supreme Court's direction, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said, "We gave 627 names in a sealed cover to the court along with a status report. Last date for assessment for all these accounts is 31 March 2015. The court after hearing both sides, did not open the cover but directed that the sealed envelope be given to the SIT itself. The SIT will there after see what it has to do and proceed in accordance with law."
This same list had been submitted to the SIT in June earlier this year, the AG added. The apex court has asked SIT to verify the list given by the government and carry on with probe. It has however, sought a report by November end.
Rohatagi refused to divulge any names but added that at least half of them were from India while the remaining where non-resident Indians. These 627 names were got by the government of India in 2012 from the government of France.  An employee of HSBC Holdings Plc's Swiss branches had allegedly stolen this data, he added.
Meanwhile, sources told NDTV that the Special Investigation Team will submit report on 220 shortlisted names of foreign account holders at the end of the month.
The SC has said as and when the SIT decides to release information on the names in the sealed envelope, only then will petitioner Ram Jethmalani get access to the list.
On Tuesday, the court also turned down the government's request that it modify its order seeking the names of all such account holders. The Centre had contended that the names should be revealed only after investigations proved the accounts indeed held black money and led to prosecution against tax evaders.