Even as the government is at pains to express its commitment to track and bring back black money stashed abroad, many members of the Supreme Court-monitored special investigation team (SIT) in its last meeting held a few weeks back had questioned the much-touted hunt for black money in tax havens abroad.
Pointing out that the black money abroad would be “just a small part of the very big whole” the members said the focus on foreign tax havens was being over-emphasised.
“The offshore hunt is turning out to be quite pointless as most of the black money is inside the country, especially in the realty estate sector, rather than being stashed abroad. The offshore hunt would not come to anything,” a SIT member told HT on condition of anonymity.
“In any case, the 628 names of account holders in the multinational bank HSBC list given by the French authorities and the 28 names in the Liechtenstein list are of pre-2007 vintage. We got possession of the lists in 2011. By that time, most of the money had been withdrawn,” the sources said.
Reports say 289 of the 628 accounts did not have any money. During the meeting, a few SIT members also made an urgent case for regulating real estate transactions.
“The members said that all real estate dealings should be made online and all payments for buying and selling real estate should only move through banks. They said it was not longer possible to employ black money in the stock market because everything is online now.
That is what is required in real estate too,” the sources added. Asked for his reaction, SIT member justice Arijit Pasayat confirmed: “It is true the extent of black money inside the country is astronomical. The hotspots are realty, diamonds and mining.”
The SIT is headed by two comprises retired supreme court judges — MB Shah and Arijit Pasayat — besides the heads of 11 premier investigative, enforcement and intelligence agencies.