Investigations against black money holders in Swiss bank accounts, known as the HSBC list, have been put on a fast-track as the CBDT has asked tax sleuths to quickly gather all foreign-based evidences in these cases and render final action by March-end.
The latest development relates to the disclosure of names by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) on black money in the HSBC's bank branch in Geneva, provided by the French government to India few years back, in which names of 628 Indians had figured with a total amount of Rs 4,479 crore (Rs 44.79 billion) being held in them.
"All I-T investigation units have been asked to process foreign requests for exchange of information on these cases by February 15. These cases are getting time-barred with the end of the current financial year on March 31. The CBDT has issued latest directives to speed up probe in these cases and quickly send them across to foreign shores," sources privy to the development said.
They said the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), the apex policy making body of the I-T department, decided to fasten these cases as the probe against these black money
holders will not hold legal value after March 31, 2015 as that it is the upper limit stipulated under law to prosecute and initiate legal action in these cases which pertain to 2007-08 fiscal.
Sources said the exclusive Exchange of Information (EOI) unit under the foreign tax wing of the CBDT has asked the I-T department to specifically focus on cases getting "time barred by March 31" so that legal requests could be sent abroad to countries like the US, UK, Switzerland and Gulf.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had earlier said that proceedings in these cases will be completed by March 31, 2015.
The SIT headed by retired Supreme Court judge M B Shah along with Justice (retd) Arijit Pasayat had also stated in their last report submitted to the apex court in December last that these cases will be brought to their logical and legal conclusion by the said deadline.
The SIT, in the said report, had stated that out of the total 628 entities, no balance has been found in cases of 289 accounts.
"Out of the 628 persons, 201 are either non-residents or non-traceable, leaving 427 persons cases as actionable cases," the report said which was released as part of the "relevant portion of the second report of SIT on black money" by the government.
The report had said that the amount involved in these cases is about Rs 4,479 crore. "Of this, the I-T department has finalised assessment for 79 entities involving more than 300 cases," it said.
"An amount of Rs 2,926 crore (Rs 29.26 billion) has been brought to tax towards the undisclosed balances in the accounts relating to these persons," the report said, adding that penalty proceedings under the I-T Act have been initiated in 46 cases.
"Such penalties have been levied in 3 cases so far. With regard to other assesses, proceedings are pending," the report said. The SIT said prosecutions have been initiated in 6 cases for wilful attempts to evade taxes besides show cause notices have been issued in 10 others.
"In other cases, necessary action is being expedited and substantial progress is expected in coming months," the SIT had said.
Under the larger ambit of the probe against black money, the tax department and other agencies including the Enforcement Directorate (ED) are probing cases involving unaccounted wealth totalling Rs 14,957.95 crore (Rs 149.57 billion) in the country.