'From where did Kejriwal get info on black money?'
Professor R Vaidyanathan, who has written extensively on the issue of black money stashed abroad, tells Rediff.com's Vicky Nanjappa that it's very important for Arvind Kejriwal to reveal his source of information on his latest anti-graft expose.
The issue of black money stashed in foreign banks took centre- stage again on Friday with Arvind Kejriwal 'revealing' big names like Mukesh and Anil Ambani in his latest anti-corruption expose.
Friday's revelations dealt mainly with the money stashed away at the HSBC bank, Geneva. R Vaidyanathan, professor at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, told rediff.com that the first question that needs to be answered is from where did Kejriwal get the details, and unless he does so, these will remain mere allegations.
Professor Vaidyanathan, who has written extensively on the issue, was also part of the team which prepared a paper on black money stashed away at the Swiss Bank.
It was in 2011 that India got data on the accounts of Indians holding illegal wealth in HSBC.
"The pertinent question is from where has this landed today and how did India Against Corruption manage to get it? When India first got the list from HSBC it appeared as though it was France which gave the list. However, it does not appear that the list which came to India had any names on it," Professor Vaidyanathan pointed out.
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Image: Arvind Kejriwal
'HSBC already under the scanner'
"Had the French government given us the list then the names would have been on it. The chances of France giving us the list would not arise as we are not covered under the European Union agreement. This would mean that India got a copy of the list from HSBC as the list had no names," he said.
"In the list provided by HSBC, the geographical distribution of the money with account numbers were provided, but there are no names on it. Hence it is extremely important that Kejriwal explains the source," he added.
"Now assuming Mukesh Ambani was the account holder, then the details of his holdings could be provided only by his handling officer in the bank. For a person like Mukesh Ambani, the handling officer would be at the level of a CEO of the bank, and it is unlikely that he would share such information with individuals," he noted.
"The other source could be the Income Tax department, which has every chance of having such details. Did someone from there hand over the information to IAC or was it someone from the government? This Kejriwal would have to answer in order to give more credit to his expose," he said.
"The other nation with details of HSBC is Greece. This list was provided to Greece under the EU agreement. However, in that list there were just names but no amount had been mentioned. The only person having proper data would be the handling officer of the respective account holder," he reiterated.
In 2011 the Government of India got the details that there were 782 Indians who had an account with HSBC. The government, however, refused to divulge any more information on the same, stating that it would publish a white paper on the same.
The HSBC is already under the scanner in India after reports had suggested that crime syndicates and drug cartels had transacted with this bank. A full-fledged inquiry is on by the Reserve Bank of India and the Revenue Intelligence Wing, which in its preliminary findings discovered that persons within the bank had helped create accounts in the name of dummy firms.