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18 Indians hid Rs 44cr in EU bank: Govt

New Delhi: The Finance Ministry said it has uncovered around Rs 44 crore of untaxed money parked by 18 Indian nationals with LGT Bank in the European tax haven of Liechtenstein and have raised a tax demand of Rs 24 crore.

“Assessments have been made against total 18 individual cases involving total assessed income of Rs 43.83 crore and total demand of Rs 24.28 crore (has been raised),” Minister of State for Finance S S Palanimanickam told the Lok Sabha in a written reply.

“Penalty proceedings for concealment of income have separately been initiated in all these cases,” he said.

Palanimanickam said the German tax authorities have provided the Indian government with information regarding accounts held by Indian nationals in the LGT Bank in Liechtenstein, a tax haven in Europe.

The details have been provided by the German authorities under the provisions of the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement between India and Germany concerning exchange of information.

“On the basis of this information, assessment proceedings were reopened and cases were centralised in different central charges in Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata,” he said.

Though the demand for tax has been raised, retrieving the tax money will take time, as it is most likely that all the cases would go through judicial process, tax officials say.

After tasting initial success, the government has planned to speed up the process of entering into agreements with other countries for seeking information on black money.

India has information exchange agreements under DTAAs with some countries. However, not all of the 79 DTAAs which India has entered have the information exchange clause.

The government has written to as many as 65 countries for amending the DTAAs to insert information exchange clauses as per the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) norms to help curb tax evasion.

Article 26 in the OECD model tax convention refers to exchange of information related to taxation.

As of now, India has completed negotiations with Bermuda, Switzerland and the Bahamas on amending the bilateral taxation pacts to seek information about funds parked in those nations.

Black money, especially funds parked in tax havens, had become a poll issue in the run-up to the general elections last year, with BJP leader L K Advani declaring that if the NDA came to power, it would retrieve the untaxed money and use it for funding the country’s development.

After returning to power for the second straight term, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had in July last year said the government has already initiated action for getting back black money belonging to Indians from Swiss banks.

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