Business, Economics and Jobs

India: Anti-corruption activist outs Swiss bank holders


India Against Corruption (IAC) activist Arvind Kejriwal delivers a speech at Jantar Mantar after he was released from Bawana Jail in New Delhi.


Sajjad Hussain

In case you're laboring under the misconception that India's corruption problem has been solved, due to my waning interest in the topic, here's an update:

Anti-corruption activist Arvind Kejriwal alleged Friday that he has information on some 700 prominent Indians who hold Swiss bank accounts, suggesting that the accounts are used for so-called "black money," laundering, round-tripping investments and other illegal activities that plague India's economy.

Citing a CD that a supporter had given him, Kejriwal said the 700 Indians hold accounts with HSBC in Switzerland, according to the Times of India

Reliance Inddustries' Mukesh and the Anil Dhirubai Ambani Group's Anil Ambani, as well as Jet Airways' Naresh Goyal are among the account holders, Kejriwal said, as well as other industrialists from the Dabur and Birla groups, the paper reported.

Kejriwal alleged that the same information was turned over to the Indian government in July 2011, but the authorities have not acted on it.

According to Kejriwal, the present director of India's Central Bureau of Investigation has said that nearly $500 billion in ill-gotten Indian money was stashed abroad, while the Indian government pegged the amount stashed in Swiss banks at only a little more than $1 billion.

"Indian government seems to be more interested in helping the guilty rather than punishing them," the Times of India quoted Kejriwal as saying.

Kejriwal also alleged that the then finance minister, Pranab Mukherjee, had even planned an amnesty for all the 700 Swiss account holders. He also demanded strict action against HSBC bank for encouraging kidnapping, corruption and terrorism in the country.

"Like America, we should enact a law that makes it mandatory for foreign banks operating in the country to furnish a list of all account holders to the income tax department," the paper quoted Kejriwal as saying.

To recap: Kejriwal has recently leveled corruption allegations at Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra, Uttar Pradesh Congress leader Salman Khurshid and BJP president Nitin Gadkari--who is now endeavoring to explain why investigators keep finding that the addresses of companies he owns reflect hovels in Mumbai slums, if they exist at all. Meanwhile, the Janata Party's Subramanian Swamy has alleged that Sonia and Rahul Gandhi themselves indulged in illegal activity by providing a dubious loan to a failing newspaper group.

In all of these cases, the accused have denied any wrongdoing, and no official police charges have been filed.