Monday, January 31, 2011

Waiting for India’s request in Hasan Ali case: Swiss govt

New Delhi: Amid a raging controversy over black money allegedly stashed by stud farm owner Hasan Ali in Swiss banks, Switzerland has said it is awaiting a "complete" request from India for help in this case since 2007.

Switzerland's Federal Office of Justice (FoJ) had last told Indian authorities in August 2010 to complete their request and the request has not been completed so far, an FoJ said. India had first sought legal assistance from the Swiss authorities in January 2007 in this case, but Switzerland can provide help only after India makes a request "complete" with facts corresponding to a fraudulent conduct of the accused, the official said.

Besides, the Swiss government's internal probe in the case of Hasan Ali, who is alleged to have stashed billions of dollars of illicit wealth in Swiss and other foreign banks, has found no reality in the presumed transfer of $6 billion to his accounts in Swiss bank UBS, he added.

Addressing a press conference on the black money issue, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee said last week that investigation was still continuing in the Hasan Ali matter and the case was being pursued both by the Enforcement Directorate and the Income Tax department.

Mukherjee said that there were several cases involved against Ali, including a double passport case and avoidance of taxes and the ED had received information on three Swiss bank accounts allegedly held by him, where no amounts were left. "One account where $60,000 were deposited, and next day the amount was withdrawn. There was no trace of that," Mukherjee said, adding that the government had seized some documents related to Ali's foreign bank accounts that later turned out to be forged. "On the basis of forged document no information can be given (by Swiss banks)," the Minister added. In reply to queries on this matter, the FoJ spokesperson provided an entire chronology of the case since 2007.

"In January 2007, Indian authorities submitted in the context of criminal proceedings against Hassan Ali Khan (namely for money laundering) a request for legal assistance to FoJ. They asked Swiss authorities to freeze his bank accounts and to hand over the relevant banking documents."

In the same month, FoJ informed the Indian authorities that "concerning the presumed transfer of 6 billions USD domestic inquiries has revealed that the supposed transfer to UBS accounts has no reality." PTI

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