Indian money stashed abroad should be brought back: Advani (Second Lead)

March 29th, 2009 - 9:14 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party New Delhi, March 29 (IANS) Joining the chorus with the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) and the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani Sunday asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to raise at the G-20 summit the issue of Indian money stashed abroad.
“I want to demand today that the prime minister raise this issue strongly at the G-20 and ask to be provided with the details of the Indian wealth abroad,” Advani told reporters here.

“I want to say that if NDA (BJP-led National Democratic Alliance) is voted to power, we will pursue this issue at legal and executive level and force Indian citizens to bring back their wealth to the country,” Advani said, citing the “crusade” by western countries against tax havens provided by Swiss banks.

Advani also asked the prime minister to hold a cabinet meeting on the issue before leaving for the G-20 economic summit, to be held in London April 2.

He said that the leaders of France, Germany, Britain and other countries have joined forces with US President Barack Obama in the battle against tax evasion and are mounting pressure on Switzerland and offshore tax havens to put an end to banking secrecy to bring back their citizens’ hidden wealth.

The JD-U and the CPI-M have already demanded that the government should ask the Swiss authorities to divulge the names of Indians who have stashed away ill-gotten money in secret bank accounts there.

CPI-M leader Prakash Karat made the demand when releasing his party’s election manifesto.

Advani quoted figures to buttress his point.

“The total amount in foreign banks was $2.6 trillion in 2001 and in 2007 it was $5.7 trillion, which amounts to Rs.285 lakh crore. This is total - India’s share is between $500 billion and $1,400 billion in 2001 and 2007 respectively,” said Advani.

Terming the issue as a convergence of “terror, crime and black money”, the BJP leader said the money stashed abroad is enough to meet the developmental needs of the country.

“We have estimated that if the whole amount … is brought back, the debt of all farmers can be paid off. We may have world-class roads in the whole country… There will be facilities for potable water in 600,000 villages… This is just to show the advantage accrued to the country,” Advani argued.

“Last year, I had written a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh about the need to get the names of Indians, presumed to have secret accounts in LGT Bank in Liechtenstein in Germany. I was disappointed to see that the reply I received from the then union finance minister was evasive,” he said.

The BJP leader also quoted a statement of Transparency International (TI) that said, “India has maintained a stoic silence over the issue and has not approached the German government for this data.”

The former deputy prime minister said that National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan had cautioned in 2007 about the “terror money” responsible for the boom in the stock exchange then.

“Earlier, there were black money and crime money and now there is terror money. It is convergence of terror, crime and black money. We need to pursue it with courage and determination for national interest,” asserted the octogenarian leader.

Advani said he will write to the Election Commission to ask all candidates to submit an affidavit regarding any assets abroad.

He also promised to form a task force comprising R. Vaidyanathan, a professor of finance at the Indian Institute of Management-Bangalore, financial expert S. Gurumurthy, criminal lawyer Mahesh Jethmalani and security expert Ajit Doval.

He said the chief ministers of the BJP-ruled states will write to the prime minister urging him to write to the authorities abroad to disclose the names of hoarders of Indian monies abroad, since it is a huge loss to the state exchequer.

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