Jaitley warns of action against those hiding assets abroad

New Delhi, Oct 4 (IANS) Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday said that people who had not declared their undisclosed assets in the 90-day compliance window offered by the government will now face the law including penalty and sentence upto 10 years while 638 people who had made the declaration can “now sleep well.”

In an article titled “NDA government’s campaign against black money” on his Facebook page, he said that those who had not made the declaration of illegal assets abroad stand the risk of information about them reaching Indian taxation authorities due to several steps taken by the government.

Noting the National Democratic Alliance government had a strategy to deal with black money and had set up an investigation team to monitor these cases in its first cabinet meeting, he accused the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government of dragging its feet on the issue.

“The (NDA) government swung into action and accelerated all the income tax assessments against those with regard to whom information about holding illegal money abroad in Lichtenstein and in the HSBC bank at Geneva, were available,” Jaitley said.

Most assessments have been completed and criminal prosecutions launched against the beneficiaries in case of illegality, he said.

“A total peak balance of about Rs.6,500 crore in these accounts has been assessed,” Jaitley said.

He noted that adding the government also brought a new law and a 90 day compliance window was offered to those having undisclosed assets abroad. September 30 was the last date of the compliance window. Those who have availed of it are required to pay a tax of 30 percent and an equal amount in penalty by December 31.

Jaitley said those who chose to make the declaration would not be prosecuted under the new black money law.

“These declarants can now sleep well. For those who have undisclosed foreign assets but have failed to file such a declaration will now be subjected to penal provisions. They will be liable to pay 30 percent tax and a penalty of 90 percent, thus leading to confiscation of the assets. They will be liable to prosecution where they can be sentenced upto 10 years. This law will create a deterrent in future against the flight of capital from India,” he said.

He said that the assessed income of Rs.6,500 crore in HSBC and Rs.3,770 crore declared income during the compliance window should not be treated as income under any immunity scheme.

The minister also said that the campaign against domestic black money has to be separately dealt and the government is independently taking steps in this regard.

Referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s initiative at the G-20 meeting for international cooperation in tackling unlawful assets held by the residents of one country in foreign soil, Jaitley said it was intended to lift the veil of secrecy in banking transactions.

He said an understanding was signed with the US under FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act) wherein the US and India would disclose to each other any real time transaction in accounts with financial institutions by its citizens in foreign territories.

“This cooperation would also extend to all those countries which would become signatories to global standards on Automatic Exchange of Information being developed under the mandate of G20.”

He said Switzerland had agreed to provide India proof relating to several HSBC accounts where India can give some evidence over and above the stolen data which was delivered to New Delhi through France.

“It is expected that over the next two years this international cooperation will be worked out. Those with illegal assets abroad, who have failed to make declarations, would now stand the risk of information relating to them eventually reaching the Indian taxation authorities,” Jaitley said.

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