The Indian government expects to receive data from Swiss authorities on the money deposited by Indians in HSBC accounts. “Serious efforts are on to check black money. Though there are no official estimates of such money stashed in foreign countries a tax demand of Rs 5,447 crore has been made in HSBC undisclosed income of Rs 8,448 crore”, Piyush Goyal said in the Rajya Sabha during the Question Hour. “The Supreme Court of Switzerland has ordered the Swiss government to share with us that data in about a week or ten days …We are going to get that”, the Finance Minister said while replying to a question on black money deposited in foreign banks.
Many people must be scared as the government will get the names of the people who have deposited the black money in foreign countries. HSBC has released the list back in 2010-11 but the Swiss government stalled the Indian authorities from getting the information on the grounds of secrecy. The then UPA government did make some effort but failed to get any information in this matter. “It is only after this government came in that we sent our Revenue Secretary to Switzerland. We had high-level discussions with the government of Switzerland and a joint statement was issued on October 15, 2015, by which both sides agreed that they will share information with each other and since then we have started getting information on HSBC accounts,” said Goyal. Later the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland also directed the Swiss government to share the data with the Indian authorities. On the Panama papers case in which the government received the details of 426 persons, the investigation is going on in all cases and 62 invasive actions have been conducted which included seizure action in 50 cases and survey action in 12 cases.
Goyal also spoke about the government actions taken against shell companies which are used for tax evasions. “As part of the drive to crack down on black money and corruption, the government had to strike off more than 2 lakh shell companies from the companies’ register. Of these only 5,000 companies came back which proves the robust mechanism and 98 percent accuracy in the case of shell companies”, said Goyal. In the last financial year 18, the Registrar of Companies (RoC) removed the names of 2.26 lakh companies from its register and disqualified 3.09 lakh directors. The authorities have identified another 2.25 lakh shell firms to de-register this financial year. According to data available with the Ministry, cash was deposited in the bank accounts of 1.68 lakh firms post demonetization.
So far Rs 1,14,110 crore worth black money has been disclosed by the people in four years of Modi government under government’s income disclosure scheme (Rs 74,350), benami transactions (Rs 4,300 crore) and income tax raids (Rs 35,460 crore). Also, there has been a drop in money stashed by Indians in Swiss banks since 2014 is close to $1.77 billion (Rs 12,139 crore). The tax collection has gone up on both direct tax and indirect tax front with the number of direct taxpayers almost doubled and the indirect tax collection also increasing substantially. The increase in the collection has given the government fiscal space to spend money on infrastructure, health, education and other welfare schemes. Although the war against black money does not end here because the estimated amount of black money is still a quarter of country’s 2.6 trillion GDP.