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The Big Picture – HSBC List: What’s the way ahead?

Summary:

The black money debate has got a new lease of life with fresh exposure by the Indian Express. The new list which contains 567 new names apart from 628 names already under investigation has mainly some big corporate leaders, businessmen and some politicians. The Indian Express has claimed that total balance in the Indian accounts as on 2007 was 25,420 Crore rupees. The international investigations into the HSBC list have also revealed that how the banks have helped the rich people across the world evade taxes apart from helping drug lords, third world dictators and Saudi’s who funded Al Qaeda to stash money and evade taxes. These new revelations are already having echoes across the world.

These revelations are seen as an important step because they provide investigating agencies an opportunity to go further and look into the investments made abroad by these people. There is also a UN convention against corruption which every country has signed. Under this convention every country should disclose the details of account holders who are holding illicit accounts when requested. These revelations are just the “tip of the iceberg”.

Black economy roughly accounts for more than half of the GDP. Of which 10% goes abroad and a part of it comes back through round tripping. And some of it is consumed. Hence the money parked in foreign banks is very less. In terms of the number of account holders, India is at 18th place, while Switzerland is on the top again with 11,235 account holders. Others in the top-five include France, UK, Brazil and Italy.

Many people are saying that it is due to the government’s unwillingness that the case is still not solved. After the new revelations the government has assured that any additional names of resident Indians that surface will surely be brought under the scope of the government’s action.

The SIT, set up by the Supreme Court, had given assurance that investigation into the black money case will be completed by March 31st. With the number of Indians in the HSBC Swiss account list turning out to be double that with the government, Justice M.B. Shah, chairperson of the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) on black money, has said that the team will look into the new list too.