Sunday, 23 November 2014

Info on Blood Diamonds Could Help India, Says Whistle-blower to NDTV

Info on Blood Diamonds Could Help India, Says Whistle-blower to NDTV
The information that Herve Falciani leaked while he was still an employee of HSBC in Geneva included secret accounts that were allegedly being used by Belgian companies trading in blood diamonds, which are mined and sold to fund insurgencies, often by warlords. ('India has Less Than 1% Info on Black Money, Lots More I Can Offer':Herve Falciani)

"There are a lot of blood diamonds related to HSBC and that will interest India," Mr Falciani said in an exclusive interview to NDTV in his home country of France.

Mr Falciani, who is now 42, left HSBC with secret client information in 2006 and after being ignored for two years, his data was finally accepted as legitimate by French authorities. He was soon co-opted by other countries including Belgium, US, Spain and, more recently, Argentina, to help  with expansive investigations to trace tax evaders who have hidden money via Swiss private banks.

Antwerp is the world's diamond capital; in the last few decades, Indians, many of them Gujaratis, have set up trading firms in the city.

Falciani says these traders have strong links with India and information he has on them can help Indian investigators join the dots on black money. A commission appointed by the Supreme Court in India to look at how to recover black money has also identified the diamond trade as a "hotspot" for undeclared and untaxed money stashed abroad.

Belgian prosecutors say HSBC in Switzerland actively sought out diamond dealers to send untaxed wealth to offshore accounts. On Monday, the Belgian government charged HSBC in Switzerland with organised fraud and criminal activities related to money-laundering.

Mr. Falciani hinted that there could be information on individuals in Belgium and France that Indian investigators could use.

On the original list of bank accounts that were leaked by Mr Falciani were the names of several diamond traders and also hundreds of Indians.