Saturday, February 5, 2011

BJP's 23 point action plan to bring back black money

5 Feb 2011            


From Our Delhi Bureau

NEW DELHI: The Bhartiya Janata Party will pressure the government in
the upcoming Parliament session to act on a 23-point charter
formulated by its task force for following constitutional, legal,
political and geo-political measures to unearth and bring back the
Indian monies illegally stashed abroad.

The Task Force, comprising noted Bangalore IIM professor R
Vaidyanathan, chartered accountant S Gurumurthy, former Intelligence
Bureau chief Ajit Doval and senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani, son of
Ram Jethmalani who is pursuing the black money case in the Supreme
Court, gave its report to the BJP early this week and its veteran Lal
Krishna Advani lost no time in getting the report endorsed by its
allies in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

Topping the recommendations of the task force is enactment of a law
that declared the Government of India as beneficiary of all monies,
assets and bank accounts held abroad by the Indian nationals without
declaring the same to the Indian authorities. Such nationals be
allowed to reclaim the assets by proving with evidence before an
impartial tribunal that the assets held outside India are acquired by
them by proper means and the non-declaration is merely a technical

The task force said such an asset restoration provision will shift
onus of proof on the person who has held undeclared wealth abroad and
the government will not face the charge of expropriating the assets
without the due process under the law.

VOLUNTARY DISCLOSURE: It says if political consensus is possible, the
government may think of providing a window of opportunity to
businessmen and professionals to bring back the money with suitable
grace period and penalty and beyond the moratorium period of say six
months, the government completely nationalise any funds kept abroad.

Also, persons who have accumulated funds abroad illegally should be
barred from holding any public office and getting loans from banks,
etc. as a form of punishment. Even cancellation of citizenship can be
considered, the task force stressed, pointing out that otherwise the
black sheep will continue to have every privilege.

On the basis of such a law, the task force argues that the government
can ask the world governments and banks committed to secrecy like the
Swiss banks to recognise the Indian government as the beneficiary of
the undeclared wealth, bank accounts and other assets till the owner
is able to prove that he had acquired it by fair means and from
legally valid sources.

OMNIBUS FIR: It also suggests registration of an omnibus criminal case
by the National Investigative Agency (NIA) against suspected
unidentified persons who have been transferring money to more than 70
tax havens abroad illegally. It says the case may be transferred to a
special team of CBI and investigated under the Supreme Court's
supervision. Such FIRs had been registered in the past in case of
Punjab terrorism and Nagaland insurgency against the unknown accused

Registration of the criminal case will enable the investigating
agencies to summon people for questioning, interrogate suspects, seize
incriminating documents, conduct raid, make arrests and examine
documents. An omnibus FIR will facilitate continuous investigation.

Another suggestion is to look at the issue as a criminal act against
the State since some portion of the stashed away money is suspected to
be used also for funding terror related activities.

DEAD DEPOSITORS: The task force also noted that huge amounts of the
Indians in secret bank accounts get appropriated by the banks as these
cannot be bequeath to their progenies and most of the depositors die
without informing the progenies about the accounts. It may run into
billions since 1950s as sudden death of a political leader or
businessman creates such situations.

"Such monies should be declared by a special law as escheat and vested
in Government of India with a provision that the progenies of the
account holder may claim the same by providing requisite evidence to
show that the monies in such accounts were sourced in legal business
or other receipts.

The task force also stressed that every politician at the time of
elections and those at the time of appointment as Reserve Bank
governor, SEBI chairman, CBI chief, IB chief, RAW chief, Central
Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) etc should affirm on affidavit that they
do not hold illegal money abroad.

GLOBAL EFFORTS: It also stressed that India must join global efforts
against tax havens and secret banking as enunciated in the meeting of
the Finance Integrity and Economic Development in Bergen, Norway in
September that was also attended by the Finance Ministry officials.

As for the illegal funds kept for nefarious purposes, the BJP task
force suggests that the government raise the issue in multilateral
forums like G-20 and UN Security Council to get a common legislation
enacted to draw out funds from tax havens.

The task force stressed that the bilateral treaties have limitations
since their jurisdictions in many cases are non-transparent and rather
created to hold illegal wealth. As such, it says the government better
set up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to distinguish between
funds and holders as it will help in voluntary confessions with
penalty to those who have accumulated funds abroad to evade taxes.
Such a commission will be able to distinguish between different shades
of criminals.

DESTABILISED ECONOMY: It also wants constitution of an
inter-ministerial task force comprising representatives of SEBI, RBI,
RAW, IB and Law Ministry and outside experts to deal with the billions
of dollars brought in as otherwise it may destabilise forex rates and
fuel further inflation.

Some other recommendations of the task force are:

-- The Prime Minister take the nation into confidence by disclosing
the foreign travels to tax havens by his union ministers;

-- Black money abroad be treated as "treason" since at least the
domestic black or unaccounted money is used in our economy and hence
productive but it is not so with the money kept in foreign banks as
"domestic black money is a vote of no confidence on the government
only, while illegal Indian wealth abroad is a vote of no confidence on
India as a country;"

-- Political parties and media as also intellectuals and well-meaning
citizens like the former Supreme Court and High Court judges, members
of the bar, academics and professionals join hands to create a public
opinion against the black money and appeal to the global institutions
and diverse governments of the world alike Tunisia movement that
compelled the Swiss government to act against illicit monies stashed
by the Tunisian rulers; and

-- Middle class that has retreated from the public domain, seeking
comfort in their private life and careers, will have to come out in
the open to demand action, and the spiritual leaders will have to also
do so.

The task force also stressed that India take up the responsibility of
enunciating a new global financial architecture suiting Asian value
systems and replacing the architecture evolved in the 20th century by
the anglo-saxon laws that promoted secretive jurisdictions.

"We should stress on geographical disclosure of sources and uses of
funds by global banks and based on that 'automatic information
sharing' should be done by the recipient nations. In other words,
closing down of the secretive tax jurisdictions should be one of the
objectives of India for a non-conflicting civilizational future," the
task force added.


No comments: