What’s this list? Why is it called Swiss Leaks?
This is a list of over 100,000 HSBC “clients” worldwide, each name with details of the account in Geneva, and the balance in that account as of 2006-07. They come from 203 countries and the total balance is $102.05 billion.
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How many are from India?
There are 1,688 Indian “clients” in the list, based on nationality, place of birth, addresses and location/issuing country for ID. After a three-month-long investigation, The Indian Express whittled this down to 1,195 (some were duplicates, some belonged to those who moved to Pakistan after Independence, etc).
Who received this list? From where?
The list was obtained by journalists of Paris-based newspaper Le Monde who got it from sources in the French government. Because the list had names from across the world, Le Monde partnered with Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists which, in turn, signed agreements with over 140 journalists from news organisations in 45 countries. In India, with The Indian Express. Other organisations include The Guardian, UK; Haaretz, Israel; BBC, London. The global date of publication, February 9, was decided weeks in advance by the consortium.
What was the role of The Indian Express?
Over three months, The Indian Express team of reporters, led by Executive Editor (News and Investigation) Ritu Sarin — who is a member of the ICIJ and was also the first to break the news of the original HSBC list (now in the Supreme Court) — scrutinised hundreds of entries. Reporters across the national network checked addresses and details in Pune, Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi, Bangalore, among other cities.
Does the list of Indians include those names already with the Indian government as part of the HSBC list in the Supreme Court?
Yes. The French authorities gave India 628 names in 2011 and these figure in the new Le Monde-ICIJ list, too. Also, several of the account-holders contacted by The Indian Express have admitted to being contacted by Indian tax authorities.
Are all these accounts “black”, undeclared to Indian tax authorities?
Unlikely, because this list may include legitimate account-holders who had taken permission and have declared the accounts, as well as holders of undeclared accounts who currently have to pay taxes and penalty, even face prosecution.
How much tax has been collected so far on these HSBC accounts?
Until last month, Indian tax authorities have calculated, Rs 3,150 crore lying in these accounts had been brought to tax.
On what basis are these names being revealed given that the Indian government has said that doing so breaks the tax agreement and may hinder cooperation?
This is an international collaborative investigative project at a time when undeclared wealth is an important part of political discourse, involving the government, the Supreme Court and the central bank. The Indian Express has done its best to contact as many of the persons, in whose names the accounts are held, as it can and is reproducing their comments.