Senior advocate Ram Jethmalani on Monday accused the BJP-led NDA government of trying to protect powerful politicians and businessmen by refusing to disclose identity of all foreign bank account holders.
Petitioner in the black money case, Jethmalani filed his affidavit in response to the government’s recent application requesting the top court to modify its 2014 direction to declare names of those who have stashed black money abroad. The Centre has said all the accounts in foreign banks are not illegal and revealing identity of those not facing prosecution would violate their privacy.
“Concealment of this information from public domain can be used as a powerful political weapon to control and intimidate the concerned individuals whose illicit accounts are in the HSBC-Geneva,” said Jethmalani accusing the government of suppressing facts and attempting to render toothless the SC appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT), which is probing black money cases.
Jethmalani, who was expelled from BJP last year, demanded to know the names of Indians having accounts in Geneva branch of HSBC’s Swiss subsidiary. These names, he said, were obtained from a former bank employee by the French government and the list was handed over to the Indian government in June 2011.
Jethmalani said the government was now going back on its previous assurance — given by the UPA government — to expose all such black money stashers. He said it was in accordance to the SC judgment that the last government submitted a list of 18 people having accounts in the Liechtenstein bank.
The government’s claim that it is bound by the Double Taxation Agreement (DTAA) with various countries not to give out the names was a “motivated attempt to protect and conceal the names of power individuals in business and politics.”
“If an Indian citizen opens an account in a foreign bank and does not or has not disclosed it and the amount is not negligible there is a presumption that it is tainted and product of some scheduled offence,” Jethmalani said.
The Centre had failed to undertake a “simple exercise” to cross-check the names with Reserve Bank of India, the only agency that gives special permission to hold foreign currency accounts, he added.