Govt to name secret overseas accounts holders on prosecution

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Indian Currency
New Delhi, Mar 25: The Finance Ministry today said names of individuals who have stashed away money in Bank of Lichtenstein would be made public after prosecution is launched against them.

"...the show cause notices have been issued (against those persons). Once prosecution is launched, the names would be made public," Minister of State for Finance SS Palanimanickam said in a reply letter to Janata Party President Subramanian Swamy, posted on Finance Ministry website.

Swamy had made a plea to the Supreme Court for making the names public and prosecution of the guilty.

In a letter addressed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on January 19 this year, Swamy stated that according to the government plea in a public interest litigation before the Supreme Court, names of Indians having bank accounts in LGT bank of Lichtenstein cannot be made public.

This is in view of the confidentiality provision of the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) between India and Germany, the letter said.

According to Palanimanickam, Swamy had mentioned that there was no bilateral agreement between India and Germany, with confidentiality as a provision and that law officers of the Indian government had misled the Supreme Court in this regard.

The minister said, "In this regard, I am constrained to disagree with you," adding that there was a confidentiality provision in India-Germany DTAA.

He further said that German authorities, while handing over the information, had emphasised that the information was subject to the confidentiality provisions of the DTAA and might be used only for tax purposes.

"...it is clear that information received under the DTAA cannot be made public and can be used only for tax purposes.

This clearly shows that the plea taken by the Solicitor General of India on behalf of India before the Supreme Court is in accordance with law," Palanimanickam added.

The government has imposed a penalty of Rs 24.66 crore on 18 individuals who have bank accounts with LGT Bank of Liechtenstein on the basis of information provided by the German authorities.

Germany had last year provided the names of some Indians, having secret accounts in Liechtenstein's LGT Bank. These names were part of about 1,400 stolen bank account details purchased by Germany.

PTI

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