In its first major disclosure on black money, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) has told the Supreme Court that 339 Indians have held Rs 4,479 crore in secret Swiss bank accounts, while it has traced illegal cash inside the country so far worth Rs 14,958 crore.
In its second report, the Supreme Court-appointed SIT has also recommended far-reaching and substantive changes to combat the menace of black money, including a radical proposal to limit the holding of cash.
It favoured penalties for holding cash beyond “reasonable threshold, may be Rs 10 lakh or Rs 15 lakh” to “control transfer of unaccounted cash from one destination to other, which at present is rampant”.
“It is to be stated that a number of European countries bar any cash transaction above a particular limit. This can be done in India too.”
Authorities should be empowered to seize properties at home of Indians suspected of holding illegal assets abroad, the SIT has recommended.
It has also favoured making tax evasion of over Rs 50 lakh a ‘predicate offence’ or a serious crime to facilitate necessary action under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
It recommended mandatory quoting of PAN for cash and cheque payments over Rs 1 lakh and flagged off mining, ponzi schemes, iron ore exports, misuse of export- import route as major areas prone to black money transactions.
On the HSBC list, the SIT said that the 427 actionable cases involve an amount of about Rs 4,479 crore. The entire list received from France comprised 628 persons and entities out of which 201 are either non-residents or non-traceable, leaving 427 persons’ cases as actionable cases.
Only 339 persons had balances in their accounts, 289 had zero balance.
“The department has finalized assessment of 79 assessees (involving more than 300 assessments). An amount of Rs 2,926 crore has been brought to tax towards the undisclosed balances in the accounts relating to these persons,” the report said.
The report stated that the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) has recovered about Rs 117 crore in cases relating to export of iron ore while in other categories of trades, investigation is pending in 33 cases where about Rs 14,958 crore could be involved.