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Who is govt shielding in HSBC, Liechtenstein tax-haven lists? | Firstpost

In National on October 1, 2011 at 6:10 pm

By R Vaidyanathan

Barack Obama is concerned about it, Angela Merkel is furious about it and Nicholas Sarkozy wants to regulate it. But the leaders of one of the countries most affected by the phenomenon of tax evasion and black money in safe havens – India – don’t want to do much about it.

Tax havens and offshore financial centres are where tax evaders and criminal elements hoard their ill-gotten wealth. In the midst of the Anna movement, one important thing – namely, black money abroad – has been pushed to the background. But this is really the Gangotri of corruption and we are doing little about it. Consider the following two examples:

The Liechtenstein affair: Liechtenstein is a tiny country and a convenient “letter box” for moneyed people all over the world to hide their illegal wealth. Germany’s intelligence agency seems to have paid an unnamed informer more than US$ 6 million for confidential and secret data about the clients of LGT group, a bank owned by the Liechtenstein Prince’s family.

The German government has announced that it will share information on accounts held in the tax haven with any government that asks for it. Finland, Sweden, Norway, UK, France, the US and Australia have expressed interest in the data obtained by Germany.

Now, the interesting and intriguing part is this: the Indian government was initially very reluctant to get that data from Germany. It finally got the data under public pressure in 2009. More than 100 names are presumably in that list. But the results have not been shared with Indian citizens, though some newspapers and TV channels have it.

Headquarters of the Liechtensteinische Landesbank bank ReutersIt is common knowledge that billions of dollars of Indian money is in various tax heavens like Antigua, Switzerland, Bahamas, Liechtenstein, Isle of Man, and St Kitts. But all our leaders – be they in  business, politics, films, sports or bureaucracy – are keen on keeping a conspiratorial silence.

The government is not releasing the names obtained from Germany and claims it is due to the double taxation treaty with that country. The data stolen by Germany from its neighbour is nowhere linked to our treaty since it does not pertain to any misdemeanor by Indians vis-vis Germany. But the government is intransigent. Who is it trying to protect?

via Who is govt shielding in HSBC, Liechtenstein tax-haven lists? | Firstpost.

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