UPA Govt’s deafening silence about secret Swiss bank accounts

via http://www.lkadvani.in/eng/content/view/825/281/ published on March 29, 2009

BJP
questions UPA Govt’s deafening silence about Indian wealth, estimated
at between Rs. 25 lakh and Rs 70 lakh crore, hoarded in secret Swiss
bank accounts.

This money belongs to the people of India – the
farmers, the landless and the workers, who are in great economic stress
today; BJP promises to bring it back.

 

Prime
Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh is going to attend the G-20 summit in
London on April 2. Ahead of this meeting, I wish to bring a highly
important matter to the attention of the people of India.

It is
well known that Swiss banks provide secrecy and safety for tax evaders,
corrupt individuals and criminals of various nationalities to hoard
their monies. Several offshore tax havens are also used for murky
financial dealings. The extent of illicit money lodged in Swiss banks
is mind-boggling. Estimates vary. 

According to
Wikipedia, they totaled $ 2.6 trillions (Rs. 130 lakh crores in today’s
exchange rate) in 2001. In 2007, they were believed to be about $5.7
trillions (Rs. 285 lakh crore), a staggering 80% increase in six years. 

It
is equally well known that many wealthy Indians have deposited their
illicit monies in secret Swiss bank accounts and tax havens elsewhere
around the world. As per credible estimates, these amounts
range between $500 billion (Rs. 25,00,000 crore) and $1400 billion (Rs.
70,00,000 crore).
 

So long as the West-dominated world
economy was doing well for the western countries, their governments
winked at the secretive functioning of Swiss banks and tax havens.
However, the current global economic crisis, which put several of their
important financial institutions on the verge of collapse, has forced
them to take many unconventional steps to revive their ailing
economies. 

The leaders of France, Germany, UK and other
countries have joined forces with the US President Barack Obama in the
battle against tax havens
. They are mounting pressure on
Switzerland and offshore tax havens to put an end to banking secrecy to
bring back their tax-evading citizens’ hidden wealth. 

This is likely to be an important point on the agenda of the G-20 Summit in London.
In February, UBS, the largest Swiss bank, was forced by the US tax
authorities to reveal the names of some 300 presumed tax evaders. The
US threatened to sue the UBS. Fearing that this could lead to the
demise of the bank, the Swiss authorities invoked an emergency clause
in their banking law and gave the data to the US. Soon
thereafter the Obama administration announced a law to uncover illicit
American money in all secretive tax havens, including the Switzerland
.  
 

UPA government’s evasive reply to my earlier demand

It
is baffling that, in the face of this growing governmental activism in
the West, the UPA Government has adopted a policy of deafening silence
and inaction. It has taken no steps whatsoever to get information about
illicit money kept abroad by Indian nationals and to strive to get it
back. 

Last year, I had written a letter to Prime
Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh about the need to get the names of Indians,
presumed to have secret accounts in LGT Bank in Liechtenstein in
Germany. I was disappointed to see that the reply I received from the
then Union Finance Minister was evasive. (Copies of both letters
attached.) 

Commenting on India’s ambivalence, Transparency
International (TI) said that India has maintained “a stoic silence over
the issue and has not approached the German government for this data’’
(The Economic Times, 25.5.2008). Some ministers in the UPA Government
are reported to have made several trips to Switzerland as the personal
leg of their official tours abroad. 

Considering the
size of the Indian wealth hoarded abroad, the government is duty-bound
to take proactive steps to bring it back. The amount involved
constitutes 3-10 times India’s overseas debt, and 50-120% of India’s
GDP. Even if we take the lower limit of the estimated amount of Rs. 25 lakh crore, the money is sufficient to:

• Relieve the debts of all farmers and landless 
• Build world-class roads all over the country – from national and state highways to district and rural roads;
• Completely eliminate the acute power shortage in the country and also to bring electricity to every unlit rural home;
• Provide safe and adequate drinking water in all villages and towns in India
• Construct good-quality houses, each worth Rs. 2.5 lakh, for 10 crore families;
•
Provide Rs. 4 crore to each of the nearly 6 lakh villages; the money
can be used to build, in every single village, a school with
internet-enabled education, a primary health centre with telemedicine
facility, a veterinary clinic, a playground with gymnasium, and much
more.
 

What a transformation it can make to the ordinary and poor Indian lives!

Financial RDX with terror links 

The
need to put an end to hoarding of Indian wealth abroad, and to bring
back the wealth already hoarded, is all the greater since the illicit money seems to be a mix of political bribes, crime money and venal business. The money trail in the Bofors scam in the 1980s had revealed the involvement of secret Swiss bank accounts. Last
year, when the stock market was booming, National Security Advisor Shri
M.K. Narayanan publicly stated that terror money might be operating
through fund flows
. What he had in mind was the Participatory
Note [PN] mechanism for investment of undisclosed funds from abroad in
Indian stock markets. The PN mechanism was introduced when India was
desperately in need of forex inflow. The UPA government has permitted
this mode of investment even after it had grown to alarming
proportions. More recently, a hawala operator from Pune was found by
the Income Tax department to have unaccounted wealth valued at Rs
35,000 crore. He is also suspected to have secret bank accounts abroad.

The
BJP sees in secret banking the RDX that has the potential not only to
blow up national financial systems but also to support and fund global
terror networks whose attacks on India increased during the UPA regime.

We do not expect any action from the UPA Government, which has shown
total disinclination to act in this matter. In any case, its days are
numbered. 

If the people of India elect a BJP-led NDA
Government in May 2009, we assure the nation that India will join the
global effort to put an end to banking secrecy and intensify it by
every means – diplomatic, political and economic – to get back the real
Sovereign Wealth of our country
. The BJP will intensely and
actively educate the public opinion on this issue and take it to the
masses and create intense public pressure on the system to uncover this
nexus between secret foreign money, terror, and politics. 

BJP’s promise and plan of action

1.
The Bharatiya Janata Party will conduct mass public opinion polls on
April 6, 2009, Foundation Day of the BJP, on Indian money in secret
accounts abroad.
 

2. The Chief Ministers of the
BJP-ruled States will write to the Prime Minister urging him to write
to the Swiss and other authorities to disclose the names of hoarders of
Indian monies abroad, since it is a huge loss to the state exchequer.

3. The BJP will form a Task Force comprising experts
in law, accounting, management and intelligence to prepare a strategic
document for India to recommend ways to get back the national wealth
stashed away illegally by the corrupt politicians, venal businessmen
and criminal overlords. Shri S. Gurumurthy, well-known chartered accountant and writer specializing in investigative journalism; Dr. R. Vaidyanathan, Professor of Finance at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore; Shri Mahesh Jethmalani, a renowned lawyer; and Shri Ajit Doval, an acclaimed national security expert, have agreed to work voluntarily on this Task Force.
 


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