Volume - 10 : Issue - 1

Published : Jan. - Mar. 2011

Group : Issues


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By Ram Jethmalani

Every knowing Indian citizen is deeply concerned about the astronomical amount of money stolen from this country and stashed away in foreign tax havens, particularly the Liechtenstein Bank and other Swiss Banks. Even television channels, extremely friendly to the ruling party and its government at the Centre are justly exercised, though their compulsions prevent them from exposing the naked truth in its entirety. It is no longer a secret that a very respectable Swiss magazine and having no interest in Indian politics published the names of 14 dacoits who had stolen the wealth of their people and concealed it in banks which notoriously provided what they called ‘Customer Confidentiality’. Amongst these 14, there was only one Indian - the late Mr. Rajiv Gandhi. The Royal family and the Congress party hoped that the people of India, would either never hear of it or even if they did, they will just keep quiet. But respectable Indian newspapers like the Statesman and The New Indian Express from the south gave wide publicity to the shocking disclosure, Mr. Rajiv Gandhi was holding more than 2 billion USD and the amount had been inherited by his heirs. The photographs of all the fourteen appeared along with their names.

Then came a Russian publication, the history of the Soviet KGB, bearing the tittle ‘State within the State’. Everybody in the west had read the book but by some illegal and unofficial ban the book did not find its way into the bookstores of India. It expressly records that Mr. Rahul Gandhi had been receiving money from the KGB, which he had been gratefully acknowledging. It is inconceivable that these facts did not come to the notice of the uncrowned Empress of India, Smt. Sonia Gandhi and her children. She never made a denial, even though Mr. Subramaniam Swamy of the Janata party openly accused Mr. Chidambaram, our present Home Minister from recycling the lady’s money on the Bombay Stock Exchange.

A New York Newspaper, published these facts as a paid advertisement by some local Indian in the U.S. A local Congress party group instituted proceedings for libel in a New York Court claiming that the object of the proceedings was to save the honour of Mrs. Sonia Gandhi. The New York Court dismissed the action on the ground that if the lady wishes to protect her honour, she should personally sue. Proxy litigation will not do. Soniaji kept quiet, obviously afraid of cross examination and left her honour badly damaged and unrepaired. It is in this background that Mr. L. K. Advani, the BJP leader and Member of the Lok Sabha called a press conference and repeated the accusation. In the absence of any public denial, Mr. L. K. Advani and his companions at the press conference had every justification for believing that the allegations are true. Not that a bare denial would have been sufficient to establish her innocence.

Rightly the press conference received tremendous publicity and the lady found it impossible not to respond. Her response should have been a press conference proclaiming her innocence to the Indian nation but she chose instead to write a letter marked ‘Private and Confidential’ complaining of what was said at the press conference about illicit funds being laundered in foreign banks and tax havens by her late husband and her mother. Fortunately she admitted in this letter that ‘these allegations which she called lies had been ‘energetically disseminated from time to time by sections of the media and interested parties’. Obviously she knew about them. She further admitted that she had never denied them because ‘she had treated them with the contempt they deserved’. One would have thought she should have treated Mr. L.K. Advani’s press conference also with contempt.

To this ‘Priavate and Confidential’ letter, Mr. L.K. Advani , a gentleman that he is, who has not got rid of his chivalry for women, merely stated that if she had denied these frequent publications, the Task Force would have certainly considered the denial. Advani’s letter does not even remotely admit that what he had stated at the press conference was untrue. The relevant sentence of his letter is “I deeply regret the distress caused to you’. The distress had not been caused by Mr. L.K. Advani but by the respectable Swiss publications and authentic history of Soviet KGB , responsible major newspapers like The Statesman and Indian Express from the south, a leader of the Janata party and even me, more than once. Mr. L.K. Advani did not say in his letter that he or the Task Force are impressed with her denial and believe it to be true. Now the lady’s further conduct should cause national distress. A rejoinder to a private and confidential communication was expected to be treated as confidential, but she and her advisors foolishly read into it, a possibility of its being used as evidence of an apology by Advani. She then committed the unpardonable act of releasing the correspondence unleashing a campaign of untruth that Mr. L.K. Advani had apologized. Her conduct confirms the belief already based upon credible evidence that she and the family are involved in this grand larceny of the assets of this poor nation. These allegations were made long prior to the parliamentary election of 2009. One of the election promises of Dr. Manmohan Singh was that the stolen money would be repatriated within 100 days. A gullible .nation, misguided by Dr. Manmohan Singh’s reputation for integrity, retuned the Congress party to power. Two years have gone by and the clamour for the money and non fulfillment of the election promise have become embarrassingly noisy and an anxious nation waited for the President of India in her address to the joint session of both houses of Parliament to hear of some credible steps taken to bring back the stolen property to its owners, the People of India. Alas, the speech proved more disappoint than her Government. Ofcourse being only a Constitutional Head, the crime remains the crime of the Government and not the President. In her speech which runs into 67 long paragraphs, covering almost 14 pages of printed matter, the only reference is a brief one hidden away in the 15th para ;-

 “15. The issue of black money has attracted a lot of attention in the recent past, especially that allegedly stashed away in foreign banks. Government fully shares the concern about the ill-effects of black money whether generated by evasion of taxed on income earned legitimately or though illegal activities. My government stands committed to tackling the menace frontally. It requires diligent, sustained effort by all law enforcement agencies, including those of state governments.”

In the next paragraph, it is mentioned that they have been able to recover income tax of Rs. 34,601 crores and detect additional income of Rs. 48,784 crores. It is in this paragraph that one finds evidence to convict the entire government of a gigantic fraud on the entire nation. For reasons of lack of space, I have the following questions to ask the government:-

1. While demanding information from the countries or the banks in which this money is suspected to be stashed, have you told them that you are investigating the serious offence of money laundering and the moneys stashed away are the proceeds of criminal activities and are not the proceeds of any legitimate trading activity ?

2. Is it true that after the German government received the names of these dacoits by bribing an employee of the Liechtenstein bank, the German government announced that that they will share this information with every friendly government which is interested, without any cost or condition?

3. Did the German government supply us names of these grand criminals without insisting on any condition of confidentiality?

4. Are you prepared to make public the document under which you claim the condition of confidentially was imposed by the Germans?

5. Is it not true that against the notorious Hassan Ali and his Calcutta accomplices, you have only slapped a demand of tax amounting to about Rs. 71,000 crores, based upon the amount lying to his credit in one account only?

6. Is it not true that he has four accounts and not one and you have never asked the German government or any other government that these are the products of crime and are not cases of mere tax evasion ?

7. Is it not true that the Swiss were prepared to give full information and that they informed us in early 2007 that if you are investigating money laundering, we will give you all the information required?

8. Is it correct that for nearly 4 years you have not responded to this request?

9. Is it true that you have approached the Bombay Court and obtained Letters Rogatory on the footing that the Hassan Ali and his accomplices have made this illicit money out of arms sales, particularly in transactions with Adnan Khasogi, a notorious arms dealer?

10. Is it true that you have been deliberately using the double taxation avoidance treaty when it does not apply?

11. Is it true that you have not ratified the United Nations Convention against corruption though you signed it nearly 5 years ago? What is the reason?

12. Is it true that even Switzerland has signed and ratified it?

13. Is it true that you are not ratifying it because it means the confiscation of money’s involved, whereas you are busy evolving a scheme of amnesty to enable these dacoits to enjoy their illgotten wealth on payment of even less than what the Income Tax Act Law would bring to us?

14. Now that you have admitted that you have received names and that you are busy collecting taxes from them, why don’t you tell the people of India who they are? Let me tell you that I am convinced the names are being concealed because your top leaders are involved.

15. Lastly have you read the statement presented by Mr. Matthias Bachmann of the Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the United Nations , New York, 20th Oct. 2010, which makes it clear that the Swiss are willing to give the information but you are not willing to receive it?