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SC calls black money stashed abroad ‘plunder of nation’

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday expressed displeasure over the government’s reluctance in coming forward with full information on the black money stashed by Indians in foreign banks, saying it as a theft of national wealth and amounted to “plunder” of the nation.

“It is a pure and simple theft of the national money. We are talking about mind-boggling crime. We are not on the niceties of various treaties,” remarked a bench comprising justices B Sudershan Reddy and S S Nijjar, while hearing a petition by former Law Minister Ram Jethmalani and others for retrieving Indian black money stashed in foreign banks.

The remark by the bench came when Solicitor general Gopal Subramanium was explaining various steps taken by the government under the Double Taxation Avoidance Act.

The court was unhappy that the government filed an affidavit restricting information relating to the money deposited by 26 persons in Liechtenstein Bank in Germany.

“This is all the information you have or you have something more?,” the bench asked.

“We are talking about the huge money. That is the plunder of nation,” the bench remarked.

The government on Tuesday said it is at an “advanced stage” of inking tax information exchange treaties with some countries, a move that will help speed up its efforts to trace black money stashed in foreign banks and help check tax evasion.

India is inking the TIEAs with countries like the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, Syria, China, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Mongolia, South Korea and Vietnam.

The Income Tax department detected concealed income of Rs 15,000 crore in the last two years and has written to various “tax-haven” countries for obtaining financial information for its various high profile probes.

CBDT said the revised tax exchange treaty with Switzerland has been ratified in the first stage by the Swiss government. The treaty will now be placed before the Swiss Parliament for final approval.

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