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India to probe banks for black money transfers

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New Delhi:

The government will initiate a probe into reports that some banks are helping businessmen and others to illegally transfer money abroad. 

On Friday, anti-corruption campaigner Arvind Kejriwal said the government had failed to punish "the big fish" on a list of 700 Indians who allegedly hold unreported accounts in the Geneva branch of HSBC. The list was given to India by France last year. 

The Finance Ministry, without referring to Mr Kejriwal's allegations in a written statement on Saturday said "Information received from the Government of France has been analysed and investigations are in progress." It added, "Action has been taken on these cases and further action including assessment, tax collection and levy of penalty will be taken as per the provisions of the Income Tax Act, 1961."

Senior government officials say Mr Kejriwal has played no role in propelling the inquiry. "The government has its own source of information and we have been steadily working to crack down on this" a source said. 

Separately, a discreet inquiry has already been initiated for a suspected transfer of tainted funds possibly connected to terror groups. New Delhi is apprehensive that a substantial part of this fund could have been moved for investment in the stock market.

A senior official in the Home Ministry told NDTV that a substantial part of the "suspicious money" had been moved through a reputed company famous for offering a fast-money transfer service and had originated from Gulf. 

Both the inquiries are likely to be conducted by investigative agencies which report to the Finance Ministry and by security agencies under the Ministry of Home Affairs. 

Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde told reporters on Saturday that, while India is being vigilant about terror-related funds bring moved into the country, "no case has been registered yet." He added, "we will inform you once we are position to launch prosecution."

Early this week, addressing the Interpol General Assembly in Rome, Mr Shinde had said that terrorists were increasingly routing money into the country's stock exchange.

Story first published on: November 11, 2012 13:39 (IST)


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