Exclusive: HSBC Indian list just doubled to 1195 names. Balance: Rs 25420 cr

Global ‘leak’ reveals names of businessmen, politicians; set to widen scope of SIT black money probe.

Written by Ritu Sarin | New Delhi | Updated: February 9, 2015 5:35 pm
black money,  indian swiss bank, india black Money, swiss account list, black money probe, black money list, India black money list, account holders black money, india black money account, swissleaks, black money, swiss bank account, Switzerland bank, name of swiss account holders, swiss bank account, HSBC india black Money An Indian Express Investigation in collaboration with Le Monde and International Consortium of Investigative Journalists

It is called Swiss Leaks — a trove of secret documents from HSBC’s Swiss private banking arm that reveals names of account holders and their balances for the year 2006-07. They come from over 200 countries, the total balance over $100 billion. But nowhere has the HSBC Swiss list touched off a more raging political debate than in India.

FULL COVERAGE: SWISS LEAKS

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That’s why to obtain and investigate the Indian names, The Indian Express partnered in a three-month-long global project with the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and the Paris-based Le Monde newspaper.

READ: The List: Who’s Who & How Much

The investigation revealed 1,195 Indian HSBC clients, roughly double the 628 names that French authorities gave to the Government in 2011. The new revelation— published today as part of a global agreement — is expected to significantly widen the scale and scope of the ongoing probe by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) appointed by the Supreme Court.

 

Prominent people on the HSBC list include:

Businessmen
Several top businessmen are HSBC account-holders. They include Mukesh Ambani, Anil Ambani, Anand Chand Burman, Rajan Nanda, Yashovardhan Birla, Chandru Lachhmandas Raheja, Dattaraj Salgaocar, Bhadrashyam Kothari and Shravan Gupta.

READ: Top 100 HSBC account holders with Indian addresses

Diamond Traders
Top diamond traders of the country, several of whom are now settled abroad, figure on the list, with mostly Mumbai addresses given. Among them, Rusell Mehta, Anoop Mehta, Saunak Parikh, Chetan Mehta, Govindbhai Kakadia and Kunal Shah.

READ: Explained: What’s new, why it’s important

Politicians
There are a few account holders with political connections, most of whom deny having accounts. There is former UPA minister Preneet Kaur, former Congress MP Annu Tandon and family members of former Maharashtra chief minister Narayan Rane — his wife Neelam Narayan Rane and son Nilesh Rane — as well as family members of the late Congress minister Vasant Sathe. Bal Thackeray’s daughter-in-law Smita Thackeray is also listed as an account holder.

READ: HSBC sheltered murky cash linked to dictators, arms dealers

NRIs/PIOs
Several prominent names include Swraj Paul, members of Manu Chhabria’s family, Rajendra Ruia/Vimal Ruia and Naresh Kumar Goyal.

HSBC, headquartered in London, when informed about the global investigation, first insisted that the ICIJ destroy its data. Told about the full extent of the reporting team’s findings (106,458 “clients” and data on major politicians, diamond traders, arms dealers and members of drug cartels), HSBC said: “We acknowledge that the compliance culture and standards of due diligence in HSBC’s Swiss private bank, as well as the industry in general, were significantly lower than they are today.”

The bank added that it had refocused this part of its business. “As a result of this repositioning, HSBC’s Swiss private bank has reduced its client base by almost 70% since 2007.”

READ: Files point to $182mn Halliburton bribery scandal in Nigeria

Probing the names

The hunt for HSBC clients took The Indian Express from Golf Links to Vasant Kunj and Gautam Nagar, all in the capital. In Mumbai, the account holders spread across Napean Sea Road to Ghatkopar, while some have listed addresses in smaller cities such as Phagwara, Kottayam, Srinagar, Ludhiana and Shimla.

READ: New law, new loophole, new business for giant global bank

Fascinating details are revealed in the list that includes hundreds of NRIs — for instance, 84-year-old stenographer Annie Meneaud, born in Kannur, Kerala, whose account was opened in Dubai and had a balance of $100,020.

Then there are some mysterious HSBC account-opening statements, such as one named “H.G.P” for a Kolkata-born UK citizen who has given a Carlton House Terrace address and, as the statement shows, instructed that all transactions be kept in the bank’s safe deposit box. This 74-year old client’s balance: $133.52 million.

A scrutiny shows there are 276 account holders with at least $1 million in their balance of whom 85 are residing in the country.

Topping the list of account-holders with an India connection is prominent London-based PIO Swraj Paul with a balance of $386 million. The lowest balance is for Gujarat-born UK citizen Naman Sarwar Malik, who has $669 in his account.

READ: Bank’s services for arms dealers in conflict with its own policy

The Indian Express was the first to report, on August 7, 2011, that French authorities had handed over details of around 700 HSBC account holders and, as was the case in several countries, a frantic tax chase began.

In November 2012, India Against Corruption, led by Arvind Kejriwal, had released names of some account holders. These new papers now reveal that while he got some names right, his claim regarding the balance in those accounts was way off the mark.

 

Govt’s action so far

Top officials of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) said that undisclosed income to the tune of Rs 3,150 crore ($508 million) has been brought to tax from among HSBC account-holders but pointed out that there were some significant gaps in the data — some 200 accounts with the Government had no balance and 211 of them were of NRIs.

“We are contacting everyone and not leaving this as a presumption. We are putting the onus of proving NRI status during the relevant period on the account-holder,” a senior CBDT official told The Indian Express.

Such updated data is being regularly provided by the CBDT and the SIT to the Supreme Court, and officials said that tax collections, penalties and prosecutions are being chased on war footing.

One issue that has, however, befuddled the CBDT is whether HSBC and its officials too should be brought under scrutiny.

A confidential note dated October 27, 2014, shows that following a video conference on the subject of HSBC collections, the prosecution of HSBC officials was being contemplated.

The note reads, “It has been explained that involvement of HSBC/its officials in opening and operation of the accounts also needs to be identified and reported to the Board… such facts would be extremely important while considering prosecution of HSBC/ its officials as abettors to Indian assessees.”

Several HSBC account-holders contacted by The Indian Express said that they objected to what some described as the “high-handedness’’ of the Income Tax Department.

Kuldip Singh Dhingra, chairman of Berger Paints, for instance, said that he had routed all money in the account through legal channels and despite that he was subjected to a search (around 150 such search operations have been conducted). He has filed a petition in the Delhi High Court as an action of protest. “The IT Department should do its homework before they move in and conduct raids. We strongly object to such treatment.’’

Another industrialist, Jitendra Virwani, chairman of the Embassy Group, said that all his bank accounts had been declared to I-T authorities, but that despite clarifications, the department had told him tax was due for the HSBC account. “I have only paid up to avoid the harassment of prosecution.”

There are many account holders, led by Delh-based industrialist Sanjiv Lamba, who approached the Settlement Commission and obtained immunity from prosecution. Suresh Nanda, himself an NRI, said his brother Paul Nanda and his son Sanjeev Nanda had also approached the Settlement Commission and paid up taxes there.

Until last month, CBDT officials said, 27 HSBC account-holders had paid up penalties and 15 were facing prosecution proceedings for concealment of income in the accounts. The SIT has reportedly been informed that the target number for HSBC account-holders to be prosecuted is 300. But that was based on the list of over 600. Now that the list has doubled, sources said, the scope of the investigation just widened.

ALSO READ: Previous Indian Express-ICIJ investigations

Indian Express-ICIJ probe: Vijay Mallya,Ravikant Ruia in tax havens

New trail in tax haven probe leads to cash, property in UK, UAE

Govt gets data on investments by Indians in tax havens

Tax havens abroad: Where can Indian investigative agencies step in?

Global media investigation finds 612 Indian firms in tax havens

 

http://www.publicintegrity.org/node/16702/syndication/tracking

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  1. D
    dev
    Feb 9, 2015 at 2:13 pm
    Salute to Indian express....
    Reply
    1. B
      bonku
      Feb 9, 2015 at 1:05 pm
      And all these are from 2006/07 era. It'll not be unfair to say that the numbers has grown many times more in last 7 years. And political parties like BJP and Congress (who thrive on such blood and black money) are now more reluctant to take any systemic investigation and willingness to punish the culprits and bring the money back.
      Reply
      1. B
        bonku
        Feb 9, 2015 at 8:16 pm
        It makes more finance sense and beneficial to the country and also local economy to invest/deposit hard earned white money in local, smaller banks- in ANY country. I have withdrawn all my money from big banks like HSBC, ICICI, Axis (in India), Citi, JP Morgan Chase (in USA) and invested in State Bank (in India) and local banks in the US.
        Reply
        1. B
          bonku
          Feb 9, 2015 at 7:07 pm
          News media seem to be better than govt intelligence and investigative agencies costing $billions of tax payers money!
          Reply
          1. B
            bonku
            Feb 9, 2015 at 1:01 pm
            Yesterday I came back from a tour to Raigarh, Mahabaleswar and Panchgani in Maharashtra (near Mumbai). (Modi's "Swatch Bharat" seems to be a joke in such famous tourists places). Previously, local people and travel agents told me that the road (about half is famous the Mumbai-Puna Highway) is good. But we realized that the road is ill maintained, some, rather long stretches, are pathetic. I talked to few drivers and local people. I realized that money is not that problem, but “most money went to PWD people and politicians of every hue and colour”. Such allegations started making more sense when I came to know/met one rather junior PWD engineer working in Nuvi Mumbai. His residential apartment is in a plush housing complex, costing at least Rs1.5 crore, full with expensive furniture and gadgets, kids go to a famous convent school that charge at least Rs 5000 per month and hefty donations almost every year besides other expanses that cots around "Rs 3-4K every month". Many of these totally corrupt people will have foreign Bank acc, they will routinely travel abroad for relaxation, their kids will purchase degrees from EU/USA and Govt will never find "proof" against such Bharat-Bhakts who donate to parties like BJP and Congress!
            Reply
            1. S
              Satya
              Feb 9, 2015 at 11:54 am
              HSBC senior staff here in India in major cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore etc; in many of cases are responsible for the account openings in their Switzerland branch and helped these illegal transfers....................... It is illegal to abet crime and smuggle money out........As an ex employee I can tell you Hsbc top management will attempt to bribe the Govt officials probing bigtime to escape with limp reasons which should not be allowed................... Why are these employees paid huge incentives (bribes) to teach people how to launder or help those who wanted to launder money not exposed or actioned against???
              Reply
              1. P
                Prapur
                Feb 10, 2015 at 1:10 am
                Rahul Sonia & Vadera have accounts through "D" Company or other such criminals in Dubai & China invested with different names. Chinese are smart and look they are hanging their criminals even to the top level.
                Reply
                1. A
                  abhilyan
                  Feb 9, 2015 at 11:01 am
                  I as an educated indian want to know the names and the amounts held by the parasites of the society not the list of the wealth creators of the nation. I can pardon them if they keep 10% of their net worth abroad for their business and personal life.
                  Reply
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