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Govt probing assets of Indians received abroad: FM

Details of assets and payments received by Indian citizens in several countries have "started flowing in" and are being investigated, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee disclosed today.

July 30, 2011 / 06:53 PM IST

Details of assets and payments received by Indian citizens in several countries have "started flowing in" and are being investigated, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee disclosed today.

Information about wealth stashed away in Swiss banks by Indians is expected by the government before the end of the year, he indicated after pointing out that India had signed a Double Taxation Avoidance Treaty with Switzerland.

The treaty is likely to be ratified by the Swiss by September and information about tax avoidance should be available thereafter.

Information regarding assets and payments received by Indian  citizens was now now under different stages of processing, he said.

Rejecting the opposition charge that the government was not not serious about dealing with black money, the minister told PTI that while previous  governments which included the BJP, CPI and other opposition parties had done nothing in this regard, the UPA had launched a five-pronged strategy in this regard.

Besides creating an appropriate legislative framework, the government had started renegotiations with 75 countries to get more information. Negotiations have been completed with 53 countries or jurisdictions.

According to latest estimates available, the Directorate of International Taxation has collected taxes of Rs 33,784 crore from cross border transactions in the last two financial years.

In a large number of specific cases, information has been obtained under DTAAs.

The Directorate of Transfer Pricing has detected mispricing of Rs 34,145 crore in the last two financial years as against mispricing of Rs 14,655 crore in earlier five years.

The investigation wing of Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has detected concealed income of Rs 18,750 crore in the last two financial years.

Mukherjee said India has been able to achieve success in getting information about black money stashed abroad in the last two years after the Pittsburgh summit of the G-20 where clear signals were given that countries and tax havens cannot continue their non-cooperation in this matter.

India joined the global crusade against black money and has now now a huge network of amended DTAAs and Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA) with tax havens.

Dismissing opposition claims, he maintained that simply by sending a couple of tax officials the government cannot bring black money stashed abroad in banks.

On various estimates of Indian money stashed away abroad, including the figure of USD 468 billion, Mukherjee said, "this is just playing to gallery".

He said he has asked three expert groups to go into the issue of estimates on black money independently and report to the government on it.

"We have taken a number of steps. Substantive issues are being addressing. You can get information only through legal instrumentalities. You can't get information through fishing expedition," he said.

Explaining the way the DTAAs work, the Minister said if the government finds there is a possibility of tax evasion domestically, then a notice is issue through courts and the country concerned would be able to share information.

It works in two phases.  One way is to collect taxes and another is to prosecute them.

"So far as we are concerned, if you keep USD 100 million in taxes, plus penalty and interest, more than USD 100 could be recovered. If I get more money why should I prosecute. But  the moment you prosecute, you can make publicise the names," he said.

The government has got names of 16 or 17 black money holders from Lichtenstein, he said.

On the Supreme Court appointing a committee of officials and two former judges to probe the issue of black money abroad, Mukherjee said the government has already filed a review petition because "there are certain law points we are fighting".

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