STATE TIMES NEWS
NEW DELHI: India Against Corruption (IAC) activist Arvind Kejriwal on Friday accused multinational HSBC Bank of running a Hawala racket in India and alleged that around 700 Indians have stashed black money to the tune of Rs 6,000 crore in the Geneva Branch of the bank. He also alleged that former Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who is currently Indian President, had planned an amnesty for 700 account holders.
Kejriwal alleged that big names like industrialist brothers Mukesh and Anil Ambani, Jet Airways Chief Naresh Goyal, Congress MP Annu Tandon, owners of Dabur have deposited unaccounted money in the HSBC Bank routed out of India illegally through Hawala channels. All the bigwigs denied having any black money in foreign accounts, but the BJP and Left demanded a probe to clear the air.
Pointing guns at the government, Kejriwal alleged that instead of taking action against people having black money, the UPA Government was protecting them.
“A CD containing names of 700 individuals, who had account in the HSBC bank as of December 2006, was handed over to the Indian Government by France,” Kejriwal said at a joint press conference with Prashant Bhushan here.
“Mukesh Ambani had Rs 100 crore, Reliance Industries Rs 500 crore, Anil Ambani Rs 100 crore, Kokilaben Ambani also had an account but the balance was zero as on December 2006, and software company Motek in which Ambanis had shares had Rs 2,100 crore.
Sandeep Tandon, the Director of Motek who was formerly an Enforcement Directorate official, had Rs 125 crore and his wife Anu Tandon who is a Congress MP from Unnao had Rs 125 crore,” he claimed.
Kejriwal alleged that Sandeep Tandon, while he was in the ED, had conducted raids at Reliance Industries but later he grew very close to Mukesh Ambani and now his two sons hold senior positions in RIL.
Kejriwal claimed that Jet Airways chairman Naresh Goyal also had Rs 80 crore in the HSBC account.
The activist-turned-politician said out of the 700 people, only around 150 people faced Income Tax raids.
“The agencies only raided those people who had very small amount in their bank accounts. Three raids were conducted on 28th July, 2011 in Delhi. The three people admitted that they had Swiss bank accounts, which had not been declared for taxation,” Kejriwal said.
Kejriwal also provided statements of three persons in which they have told interrogators that HSBC facilitated them opening accounts without them going to Geneva.
The money was handed to over to an agent here and whenever, they wanted to withdraw they used to contact a person in Geneva and the amount was delivered in India, he alleged.
“There is no physical transfer of money. This is money laundering. The statements by the three persons reveal that HSBC is openly and brazenly running a hawala racket in India.
“These statements are enough to arrest HSBC officials.
The two activists of IAC also alleged that the UPA Government under Manmohan Singh was “sold out” and it is the “biggest danger” as it is surrendering economic sovereignty of the country.
They expressed fears that terrorists in Pakistan or criminals can exploit the method of money transfer in HSBC for their activities in India.
Their (HSBC Bank) operations should be immediately suspended as it is a fit case for charging them under sedition and waging war against India,” Kejriwal said.
He also wanted the government to raid the 700 odd people with Swiss Bank accounts on the strength of information provided by the French government. His own tip off, he said, came from a senior Congress leader.
Kejriwal said former Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had planned an amnesty for all the 700 Swiss account holders.
“Like America, we should enact a law that makes it mandatory for foreign banks operating in the country to furnish a list of all (Indian) account holders to the Income Tax Department,” he said.
Kejriwal’s allegations — the fourth in a series that have targeted alleged corruption in high places — were quickly denied. Among the first to react was Annu Tandon, a Lok Sabha Member from Unnao in Uttar Pradesh.
“This is a completely baseless and malicious allegation. I completely deny any corruption,” she said.
Reliance Industries said the Swiss unit of HSBC had apologised to Mukesh Ambani in January for embroiling him in a probe by India’s Income Tax authorities after his name cropped up in a list of people with beneficiary accounts.
The error was blamed on Ambani’s past association with Flag Telecom that runs a network of undersea communications cables and which had an account with the bank, it said.
Jet Airways issued a denial on behalf of Goyal, saying he had no accounts in Swiss Banks.
According to Kejriwal, the CBI Director had once said that more than Rs.25 lakh crore of “ill-gotten Indian money” was stashed abroad. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Left leaders asked the government to act on Kejriwal’s allegations.
“We demand an investigation since so many versions are coming. If the government cannot explain what action they have taken, we demand they investigate this HSBC affair,” said BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman.