Home India News Bureaucrats’ forum calls for war on monies stashed abroad

Bureaucrats’ forum calls for war on monies stashed abroad


New Delhi : India Rejuvenation Initiative (IRI), a non-political forum of top former bureaucrats and social activists, Monday called for launching a public movement to recover India’s black money parked in foreign banks and financial institutions.

The issue was discussed at a day-long workshop on ‘Forging a Public Movement for Recovery of India’s Stolen Assets from foreign countries’ held at the India International Centre (IIC) here.

Delivering the keynote address, former chief election commissioner J.M.Lyndoh flayed the policy of secrecy of foreign banks and nations in divulging the names of those who have parked their ill-gotten wealth with them.

Terming it as a “conspiracy of secrecy”, he said: “It was high time pressure was exercised on such nations to give up such policies and for suitable amendment in criminal laws to book such persons.”

Expressing deep concern over such money being used against the interest of the nations to which it actually belonged, Lyndoh sought to point out: “I am convinced that a large chunk of black money siphoned off to tax havens finds its way surreptitiously back into the nation of its origin.”

“What was even more serious that such money was often used in nefarious activities, including terrorism,” he said.

Former prime minister Vishwanath Pratap Singh’s secretary Bhure Lal, who had long experience in combating money laundering when he worked as India’s enforcement director, was of the view that “money laundering was not possible without connivance between the beneficiaries and the underworld.”

He said: “While earlier it was not easy to retrieve such money from foreign countries, an amendment in the Swiss banking laws has made it possible, provided it could be proved that the money was being used for criminal activity.”

Bhure Lal said: “If the Indian government were to take the initiative to amend our own laws, the task would not be difficult as black money was inseparable from criminal activity today.”

Highlighting how such money was adversely affecting the nation’s economy, former Union revenue secretary Javed Chaudhary observed: “The extent of India’s black money stashed in foreign countries is of the order of at least Rs.10 lakh crore, that is just about 10 percent of our GDP.”

Blaming India’s trade policy as a major source for money-laundering, he alleged, “over-invoicing of exports is one of the most commonly used means to transfer black money through ‘hawala’ to foreign lands.”

Chaudhary opined: “Replacement of Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (FERA) by Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) was a blatant dilution of the law that was meant to check money laundering.”

Prof. R.Vaidyanathan of Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, said: “Over a trillion dollars out of the total 2.8 trillion dollars deposited in Swiss banks belongs to Indians.”

He added that “a large chunk of the money belongs to Indian politicians and bureaucrats, besides business houses.”

Former Indian Air Force (IAF) chief, Air Chief Marshal S. Krishnaswamy emphasised the need to make public servants “accountable and responsible”, in order to curb the prevailing corruption levels.

Prominent Supreme Court lawyer and activist Prashant Bhushan said the appointment of a Lokpal (ombudsman) was the best means to wage a battle against black money abroad.

The workshop was conducted by V.K.Shunglu, former Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India.