CBDT fast-tracks black money probe

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has directed investigators to gather all evidence related to foreign bank accounts held by Indians so as to enable action to be taken the so-called against black money holders with Swiss bank accounts by end-March.

The latest development relates to the disclosure of names by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) on black money in the HSBC branch in Geneva, provided by the French government to India a few years ago. The list had names of 628 Indians with a total amount of Rs4,479 crore being held in their accounts.

CBDT has directed all I-T investigation units to process foreign requests for exchange of information on these cases by 15 February as these cases are getting time-barred with the end of the current financial year on 31 March.

The board has asked investigators to gather information quickly and send it across to the respective countries.

CBDT decided to fast-track these cases as the probe against these black money holders will not hold after 31 March 2015, beyond which legal action cannot be taken in these cases which pertain to 2007-08 fiscal.

The exclusive Exchange of Information (EoI) unit under the foreign tax wing of the CBDT has asked the I-T department to specifically focus on cases getting "time barred by 31 March" so that legal requests could be sent to countries like the US, UK, Switzerland and in the Gulf.

The SIT, headed by retired Supreme Court judge M B Shah, had also stated in their last report submitted to the apex court in December last that these cases will be brought to their logical and legal conclusion by the said deadline.

Meanwhile, the SIT had stated that out of the total 628 entities in the list of foreign account holders, no balance has been found in the case of 289 accounts.

"Out of the 628 persons, 201 are either non-residents or non-traceable, leaving 427 persons cases as actionable cases," the report, released as part of the "relevant portion of the second report of SIT on black money" by the government, said.

''The I-T department has finalised assessment for 79 entities involving more than 300 cases."

"An amount of Rs2,926 crore has been brought to tax towards the undisclosed balances in the accounts relating to these persons," the report said, adding that penalty proceedings under the I-T Act have been initiated in 46 cases.

"Such penalties have been levied in 3 cases so far. With regard to other assesses, proceedings are pending," the report said.

The SIT said prosecutions have been initiated in 6 cases for wilful attempts to evade taxes besides show cause notices have been issued in 10 others.

"In other cases, necessary action is being expedited and substantial progress is expected in coming months," the SIT had said.