Activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal on Friday charged international bank HSBC with money laundering and said top corporate entities including the Ambani brothers, Jet Airways chairman Naresh Goyal, the Burman family that controls Dabur and Congress MP Anu Tandon had deposited their unaccounted money in a Geneva branch.
The allegations drew furious denials from all named by him, and criticism from ex-chief justice of India JS Verma, who said black money was a complex issue that couldn't be decided "on the streets".
Kejriwal told a news conference the government had not taken any action against "big names", who he said had stashed Rs. 6,000 crore of black money abroad. A government spokesman dismissed the allegations as old. IAC press release
"The government received a CD from the French government in July 2011 that contained the names of 700 Indians with bank accounts in HSBC's Geneva branch… After receiving the information, income tax raids were conducted on at least 100 of these account holders, but not on any big name," Kejriwal said.
He added that he had got the information from multiple sources including from within government and the Congress.
Arvind Kejriwal addresses a press conference as Prashant Bhushan and Manish Sisodia look on. AP
The Ambani brothers and Goyal denied having any bank accounts in HSBC's Geneva branch.
A statement by the Dabur group said the Burman brothers had opened the accounts legally when they were NRIs and HSBC refused to be drawn into any specific details, saying only that it took compliance with the law very seriously.
Tandon termed the allegations "baseless and malicious".
In the past month, Kejriwal has taken on Congress president Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra, external affairs minister Salman Khurshid and BJP president Nitin Gadkari, with allegations ranging from dubious land deals to forgery.
While his exposes have attracted widespread media attention, critics have termed his strategy "hit and run", lacking rigour in investigation and not leading to any logical conclusion.
Academic Madhu Kishwar felt that there was a need for Kejriwal and his team to slow down.
"They should be a little less desperate and the media focus on them is letting the government get away instead of answering the serious allegations."
"It is a complex issue that can't be decided on the streets... This situation, though fraught with danger to a democratic polity seems to have a reason because of lack of accountability in all spheres of governance," said former CJI Verma.