Belgium is recovering nearly 540 million euros ($600 million) from its “black money” probe into 829 accounts in HSBC Private Suisse Bank in Geneva, the Belgian finance ministry confirmed to HT on Tuesday.
Among those who paid up were diamond merchants, lawyers, aristocrats, company heads and sports personalities, local media reported. The Belgian prosecutor’s office had pointed out that many accounts were traced to the Antwerp-based Belgian diamond industry. 60% of this market is controlled by Indian families.
Moreover, the Belgian justice ministry is carrying out a separate investigation on prosecutable cases. It charged HSBC Private Bank SA (Switzerland) in 2014 for serious and organised tax fraud among others.
India’s own “HSBC list” has 628 names and is being probed by a special investigation team (SIT), which did not trace any activity in 200-odd accounts. The total amount in the remaining accounts is over Rs 6,000 crore.
India, however, is yet to acquire the full set of data that the French and Spanish authorities possess. Hervé Falciani — the whistleblower who leaked the data — claims that acquiring the entire data set along with collaboration between India and Belgium can widen India’s probe and increase the chances of the money being recovered.
Meanwhile, France, Argentina and Switzerland have also indicted the bank, in addition to probing its account holders.