The 1,200 Indians who allegedly have accounts in HSBC Bank's Geneva account and against some of whom a probe was initiated by tax authorities can't get amnesty under the new law that the government proposes to get back ill-gotten money stashed abroad.
The so-called amnesty scheme is detailed in the chapter on tax compliance for undisclosed foreign assets of the proposed legislation. But Section 71 lists the cases where the provisions of this chapter shall not apply and the accounts held illegally in the HSBC account falls under it.
The said chapter is provided for in the Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets (Imposition of New Tax) Bill, 2015, which was tabled in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of parliament, on Friday, just hours before the recess of the Budget session.
It clearly says it shall not apply, where:
- Notice has been served on a person for such cases under the Income Tac Act
- Search has been conducted and a notice has been issued that is still valid
- Information has been received by the government from a competent authority under a formal pact.
Revenue secretary Shaktikanta Das also clarified that while was not an amnesty scheme, it will not come in the way of the due process that was being followed in the case of individuals and companies against who were under probe for stashing away money abroad illegally.
"Where we already know about the cases, they will not be ale to get the benefit of the compliance window," Das said.
The co-called amnesty scheme is to apply from the date when the new act comes into force, which is proposed from April 16 next year, till such date the government notifies its applicability in the official gazette.
Media reports had said last month that nearly 1,200 Indians were in the list of clients who held accounts in HSBC Bank's Geneva branch from 2006-2007 -- a disclosure that was not denied by the government, but not endorsed either.
Reacting to the report, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who moved the new bill in th Lok Sabha on Friday, said the government had completed an assessment of 350 foreign accounts and tax evasion proceedings had been initiated against 60 account holders.
This followed the Supreme Court last year giving a list of 628 entities in the said bank, which was furnished to it in a sealed envelop by the central government, to a Special Investigative Team (SIT) constituted by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi government in May last year.
India has no official estimates of illegal money stashed away overseas, but the unofficial ones range from $466 billion to $1.4 trillion.