Fin Min declines to share details on black money probe

NEW DELHI :  Citing national security and confidentiality clauses, Finance Ministry has declined to disclose information on exchange of correspondence among India, Swiss and German authorities in connection with the black money probe.
Replying to an RTI query, the ministry said it was obtaining information regarding Indians having accounts in foreign banks from concerned nations.
“Since the information regarding Indians having accounts in foreign banks which are being obtained from foreign authorities under the prevailing Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements (DTAA) are confidential as per the treaty provisions and the same are exempt from disclosure,” the Ministry said.
It cited Section 8(1)(a) and (f) of the RTI Act and said “any information in this regard cannot be provided to you”.
The Sections bar disclosure of information which would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the state, relation with foreign state or lead to incitement of an offence, and those received in confidence from foreign government.
The Finance Ministry was asked to provide copies of letters or any other requests sent to or received from Switzerland and Germany relating to the black money probe.
It was also asked to give copy of letter or invitation received from Swiss government inviting officials from here for discussion on tax evasion issues to that country.
A delegation led by Revenue Secretary Shaktikanta Das and comprising Finance Ministry officials had visited Switzerland on October 15, this year and held discussions with Swiss Finance and Tax Authorities on issues relating to exchange of information in tax matters.
“The discussions were substantive and useful,” a Finance Ministry release had said.
There is at present no official assessment on the quantum of black money in India and abroad.
The Finance Ministry has engaged Delhi-based National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP), National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) and National Institute of Financial Management (NIFM) at Faridabad, for conducting a study on quantum of black money stashed by Indians in foreign banks.
These reports are yet to be placed in the Parliament.
The different estimates on quantum of black money range between USD 500 billion to USD 1,400 billion. A study by Global Financial Integrity has estimated the illicit money outflow to be at USD 462 billion. (AGENCIES)


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