Sunday, November 25, 2012

Hasan Ali case: Govt approaches Swiss authorities

NEW DELHI, November 25, 2012 (PTI)

The government has asked the Indian Mission in Berne to get in touch with banking authorities of Switzerland for obtaining details of businessman Hasan Ali Khan's Swiss bank accounts in connection with the probe into one of the biggest tax evasion scams in the country.

The Finance Ministry has written to the External Affairs Ministry to approach the Swiss banking authorities to allow a team of investigators drawn from the Enforcement Directorate and the Income Tax department who will place a "comprehensive money laundering and criminal tax evasion" report on the Pune-based stud farm owner and his associates.

According to official sources, a team of three-four sleuths want to place documents related to "criminal proceeds of crime" allegedly amassed by Mr Khan in front of the Swiss authorities so that they allow them to obtain his bank accounts data and cash statements, including one which he reportedly holds in a bank in Liechtenstein.

Mr Khan is currently in jail after the ED slapped a money laundering case against him last year. This case has emerged as the biggest individual case of blackmoney stashed abroad.

The Finance Ministry, on the ED's plea, has sought to invoke the latest provisions of the revised Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) between the two countries which enables India to "get information even if it only has limited details regarding the person having bank accounts in Switzerland".

While the I-T department has raised a tax arrear demand of Rs. 50,345.73 crore on Mr Khan, the ED has registered a case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). It is also probing him for alleged Forex violations.

An alleged violation by Mr Khan under the Passport Act is also being probed by the central agencies.

The sources said additional banking information with regard to Mr Khan's accounts will help the agencies ensure prosecution against the businessman who is touted to be the country's biggest tax evader.

Probe agencies have earlier placed on record details of Khan's financial deals with international arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi.

The sources said although the probe agencies are apprehensive about the realisation of the huge tax and penalty amount on Mr Khan and his associates through this diplomatic step, they could at least prepare a water tight case for his prosecution.

Mr Khan with a tax arrear demand of Rs. 50,345.73 crore is followed by Chandrika Tapuriah, wife of his associate Kashi Nath Tapuriah, with an outstanding of Rs. 20,540.83 crore tax demand, while Kashinath Tapuriah himself has a tax demand Rs. 602.80 crore.
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