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IT dept to prosecute 300 bank account holders abroad

Last updated on: October 29, 2014 21:05 IST

The Income Tax department is likely to initiate prosecution against close to 300 people whose names have been submitted to the Supreme Court in connection with the probe into alleged black money accounts in HSBC Bank in Geneva.

Officials said the department has informed the Special Investigation Team (SIT), constituted to go into the issue, to allow it to start the "first step of prosecution" under two sections of the Income Tax Act.

Prosecution is being sought under Section 277 (false statement in verification) and 276 D (failure to produce documents) so that the department can share information with other enforcement agencies like the ED and CBI, they said. The sources said the department has already realised Rs 200 crore or Rs 20 billion in taxes and penalties from some of these account holders who have accepted to holding these accounts abroad.

There could be another Rs 200 crore to Rs 300 crore in taxes and penalties that could be realised from the others, they said.

"The list of 627 Indians submitted to the apex court today has close to 300 people against whom prosecution action can be launched soon. Basic prosecution, at least under select sections of the I-T Act. While some 120 cases are already under prosecution these fresh individuals and entities can also be booked based on prima facie evidence gathered by tax sleuths," sources said.

They said this will enable the SIT to hand over some vital information to agencies like Enforcement Directorate and CBI who could take action under their mandates and the laws that they enforce. International and bilateral treaties allow a member nation to share such information obtained by one agency with others only at the stage of prosecution or when the matter is in the purview of courts of the land.

"The SIT has agreed to this and we expect to file new prosecutions sooner than later.'

"In these 300 cases the I-T department has some evidence," they said. Officials said these cases pertain to the years 1999-2000 and they will get "time barred" by March 2015 and hence there is "no time to loose" for the authorities.

Sources privy to the contents of these lists said there are a number of "established" cases where the foreign account is genuine and has been reflected in tax statements filed by the individual or entity.

The Mumbai Income Tax authorities will soon initiate the process of ascertaining if there was any "criminality" involved in the accounts of 90 individuals from the city whose names figure in the list of 627 Indians submitted by the Centre to the Supreme Court in the blackmoney case.

Sources in the Directorate General of Income Tax (Investigation) department told PTI that of the 627 individuals named in the list, 235 were based in Mumbai. "We have got confirmation of the accounts of about 90 individuals from Swiss authorities and will begin the process of ascertaining it any criminality was involved," sources said.

Maintaining that just because somebody had a foreign account he cannot be categorised as "black money hoarder", an officer said, "We will verify all the aspects." The list includes people from several fields, including politicians, real estate developers and bullion traders.

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