"The commitment is regarding secrecy. Secrecy has to be maintained. As and when prosecution proceedings are there, the information (will) come into the public domain before the courts," Finance Secretary R S Gujral told reporters here when asked whether the government would disclose the identity of 700 HSBC account holders in Switzerland, whose names were reportedly given by the French government to India.
As regards prosecution, he said it would be initiated by the Income Tax Department in appropriate cases.
Gujral further said that information about accounts in overseas banks would be shared with the Enforcement Directorate after initiation of prosecution proceedings.
"Once the information is available in the public domain, obviously they (Enforcement Directorate) can take action. But before the information is in the public domain, information cannot be shared even with the ED," Gujral added.
The Income Tax Department is probing a list of 700 Indians with accounts in Geneva-based banks after the government received information in this regard, reportedly from the French government.
However, the government has not disclosed the names of persons who were being probed by the Income Tax Department in connection with their unaccounted wealth in overseas bank accounts.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance headed by BJP leader and former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha recently sought the immediate initiation of prosecution proceedings against persons who have allegedly stashed black money overseas so that their names could be made public.
There has been a public outcry over the black money issue after it was taken up by social activists like Anna Hazare and Ramdev.
BJP leader L K Advani, too, had asked the government to disclose the names of the 700 Indians who have accounts in Swiss banks.
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherkee had earlier said the government has received information from France about the overseas bank accounts of Indians. "In 69 cases, the taxpayers have admitted to unaccounted income of Rs 397.17 crore. Taxes of Rs 30.07 crore have also been paid," he had said.
India, according to the Finance Ministry, has so far received over 9,900 pieces of information from several countries regarding suspicious transactions by Indian citizens.
These are now under different stages of processing and investigation.