Under probe in UK and US, HSBC now faces Kejriwal attack

Troubles seem to be piling up for UK-based HSBC, Europe's largest bank. Already under investigation in the US in a nationwide crackdown on money laundering, it now faces action in the UK as well. Authorities in its home country confirmed on Friday that the bank is at the centre of an investigation by British tax authorities for allegedly providing accounts in the tax haven of New Jersey for alleged criminals.

And now, Arvind Kejriwal and his India Against Corruption, the self-constituted anti-corruption watchdogs, have accused HBSC's India arm of helping promoters of major industrial houses to siphon off huge amounts of untaxed 'black' money into its Geneva branch.

The difference of course is that while authorities in the US and the UK are acting on the basis of solid information, Kejriwal has been unable to produce a shred of evidence to back his claim that HSBC had helped rival industrialist brothers Mukesh and Anil Ambani, Jet Airways owner Naresh Goyal, Congress MP Anu Tandon and her late husband Sandeep, and the Burmans (Anand, Pradeep, and Ratan) to be among 700 Indians who HSBC helped siphon crores of black money to its Genevva branch.

At a press conference in New Delhi on Friday, Kejriwal and his colleague, lawyer Prashant Bhushan, admitted they did not have any demonstrable evidence, but said the information had been passed on to them by a recently-appointed union minister, and that they had checked the information with various sources.

Kejriwal described Tandon as being close to Rahul Gandhi and said was worth examining if the money in her account - an alleged Rs125 crores - actually belongs to the Congress general secretary.

Kejriwal said that the Ambani brothers have Rs100 crore each in unreported bank accounts in HSBC in Geneva. He added that as of 2006, the balance in these 700 accounts added up to Rs6,000 crore.