Kolkata, Feb 5 (PTI) The government today said it hasserved notices to 17 persons alleged to have kept untaxedmoney in foreign banks and prosecution has begun against them,but refused to reveal their names.
The comments, made by Union Finance Minister PranabMukherjee here, came a day after some media reports revealednames of 15 entities, including individuals and trusts, saidto have kept illicit money in LGT Bank of Liechtenstein, anEuropean country neighbouring Switzerland.
"We have received a few names and already served noticeson 17 persons and prosecution has begun," he said.
Mukherjee, however, said that it was not possible toreveal the names of those who have stashed money in overseasbanks.
"The government, suo motu, cannot reveal the namesbecause according to treaty we can only use the informationfor taxation purposes," Mukherjee told reporters.
"We can only reveal the details in the open court whenthe matter comes up for hearing," Mukherjee added.
These are the persons whose names were given to India bythe German government, which had purchased the stolen data ofover 1,400 people with secret accounts in the LGT Bank.
The Indian government has been refusing to make publicthese names citing secrecy clause in the deal with Germany,and has shared the details with the Supreme Court only.
The black money issue has become a big politicalcontroversy, with the opposition parties asking the governmentto reveal these names and even the courts mounting pressure totake action to bring back the black money stashed by Indiansabroad.
Late last month, Mukherjee held a press conference in thenational capital on the black money issue and said thegovernment has initiated a multi-pronged strategy to tacklethe issue, but the names cannot be disclosed due to bilateraltreaties with various governments.
He had said there was no legal framework available rightnow with the government to reveal details about black moneyaccounts and treaties are being negotiated with 65 countriesfor getting information about tax evaders.
Mukherjee maintained that there were no clear estimatesabout black money and the government has constituted amulti-disciplinary committee to get studies conducted toestimate the quantum of illicit funds generated by Indiancitizens.
"The government has nothing to hide. No question ofhiding. Let us understand the issue. No information can bemade available unless there is a legal framework.
No sovereign government is going to share informationunless there is a legal framework," he had said.