As the Congress dares the government to reveal the names of people who have stashed away black money in foreign bank accounts, finance minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday said premature disclosure would help the guilty prepare “sham defences” and destroy evidence and could even hamper investigation.
Jaitley said disclosure in violation of tax treaties could, in fact, help the account holder as the reciprocating state would refuse to provide any evidence in support of the unauthorised account.
“An unauthorised disclosure of information is fraught with both investigation and economic consequences. They can sabotage the investigation. They can attract sanctions in the form of withholding taxes,” he said in a Facebook post on a day Prime Minister Narendra Modi vowed to bring back “every penny of black money”.
Given a choice between unauthorised disclosure and disclosure as per treaties, the minister said, the latter was both “a fair and beneficial proposition”.
“The debate is not between disclosure and non-disclosure of confidential information,” he said.
“It is between unauthorised disclosure in violation of tax treaties and disclosure as per the tax treaties.”
Hitting out at those demanding disclosure, Jaitley said, “The Congress stand is understandable. It does not want evidence to be forthcoming in support of the names available with the special investigation team. Are some others ill-informed, just indulging in bravado or are they Trojan horses?”
He said the SIT would bring out the truth while realising the full implications of the matter, adding that confidentiality clauses made it incumbent that disclosures be made only after prosecution was filed before a charging court.
The government had last week submitted to Supreme Court in a sealed envelope the details of 627 people with accounts in HSBC, Geneva.
“India has to take a conscious call. Does it want to be part of the global coalition that is moving in the direction of automatic sharing of information or not? Does it ensure all information is supported by substantial evidence and proof or only wishes to remain restricted to sloganeering?”