Rs19,447 cr in undisclosed foreign accounts detected: Jaitley

The Income Tax Department has detected Rs19,447 crore of deposits credited into undisclosed foreign bank accounts, including HSBC, finance minister Arun Jaitley informed the Lok Sabha on Friday.

He said information on 628 Indian persons holding bank accounts in HSBC bank in Switzerland was received from the government of France under Double Taxation Avoidance Convention (DTAC).

Replying to a question in a written reply in the House, Jaitley said undisclosed income of about Rs8,437 crore has also been brought to tax till May this year.

He said investigations into information pertaining to about 700 Indian persons allegedly linked to offshore entities based in no-tax or low-tax jurisdictions put into public domain by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) have led to detection of more than Rs11,010 crore of credits in undisclosed foreign accounts.

As many as 72 prosecution complaints in 31 such cases have been filed before criminal courts, he added.

''The government has pro-actively engaged with foreign governments for exchange of information under available instruments. As part of investigations in undisclosed foreign asset cases of Indians during last three years, there has been about three-fold increase in the number of requests made by competent Indian authorities under tax treaties to their counter parts abroad,'' Jaitley said.

He said the government constituted a Multi-Agency Group in April last year for facilitating investigation in the cases of Indian persons allegedly having undisclosed foreign assets, and whose names were included in Panama Papers leaks.

The ongoing probe into the HSBC and ICIJ cases by the Income Tax Department has led to the detection of Rs19,000-crore of unaccounted wealth.

Replying to a query, whether the government has made any assessment of black money stashed by Indians in foreign countries, Jaitley said there is no official estimation of that.

However, he said, the government had commissioned a study on estimation of unaccounted income and wealth inside and outside the country to be conducted by NIPFP, NIFM and NCAER.

''The reports of these institutions and the government's response on the findings in the reports would be placed before the standing committee on finance shortly,'' he added.
 
In a written reply to another question in the Lok Sabha on Friday, minister of state for finance and corporate affairs Arjun Ram Meghwal said that the Income tax Department had conducted 1,100 searches and surveys between 9 November 2016 and 10 January 2017, apart from issuing more than 5,100 verification notices in the cases of suspicious high value cash deposits or related activities. These have resulted in seizure of valuables of more than Rs 610 crore, which includes cash of Rs513 crore.

Besides, new currency notes worth about Rs110 crore and undisclosed income of more than Rs5,400 crore were detected during these searches, he stated.

The government launched `Operation Clean Money' on 31 January 2017 with the mission to ''Create a tax compliant society through a fair, transparent and non-intrusive tax administration where every Indian takes pride in paying taxes''. In the process, about 18 lakh persons were identified whose cash transactions did not appear in line with their tax profile. Such persons were approached through SMS/email (non-intrusive method without even a notice).

The contacted persons were required to submit their responses by logging into a specified website. More than 9.27 lakh responses were received providing information on 1.33 million accounts, involving cash deposits of around Rs2,89,000 crore. Appropriate action under direct tax law in the remaining cases has been taken. Subsequently, advance data analytics tools were deployed and 5.56 lakh new cases were identified for online verification.

Data available from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) indicates that 1,57,818 numbers of fake Indian currency notes (FICN) having a face-value of Rs11,24,04,980 have been reported by states/UTs police for the period 9 November 2016 to 14 July 2017.