HSBC whistleblower should share info without pre-conditions: Arun Jaitley

Finance Minister assures action on black money, urges Falciani to share information

New Delhi: Assuring action on black money, government on Tuesday said HSBC whistleblower Herve Falciani should share information "without pre-conditions", a day after he expressed willingness to cooperate with probe agencies but stressed that he would need "protection".

Replying to queries, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told reporters that the government's representative has already met Falciani and offered a reward in exchange for information.

"Government of India is making all efforts to bring the details (of black money accounts). The number of prosecutions that we launched in last one year were not done earlier.

"Whoever has whatever details, he or she should give to to us instead of putting any pre-conditions," Jaitley said addressing a curtain raiser press conference on IFFI where he was asked about Falcini.

"We will take action" on the black money front, Jaitley said.

Claiming that "lot of information" on illicit funds is lying unused by the Indian authorities, Falciani on Monday said he was willing to "cooperate" with the investigative agencies in their black money probe but would need "protection" as he faced the risk of arrest if he came to India.

He also claimed that "millions of crores worth illicit funds" are flowing out of India.

Falciani is facing charges in Switzerland of leaking details of bank account holders in Geneva branch of HSBC – a list which later reached French government and subsequently was shared with India as it had accounts of those Indians who had stashed funds abroad.

Addressing media persons here through Skype link, Falciani said money was not the driving force for sharing classified data on black money and other suspect accounts.

"It is not about money. I don't intend to become rich," Falciani said when asked whether he is looking for money to share information with India.

"We need just simple protection," he said. "We are not protected... If I am coming to India, I will be arrested," he said, adding that people need to understand that there are not many new ways to probe and combat the menace of black money.

Earlier this year, he had hinted that he possessed additional information on the lines of the list of 628 Indian entities holding accounts with the bank in Geneva.

The Finance Ministry in February this year had said the IT department was already in touch with Falciani, "who apparently brought out the names of persons holding undisclosed bank accounts in HSBC, Switzerland."

"He has been requested to share information available with him in respect of undisclosed bank accounts of Indians in HSBC, Switzerland, and other destinations. His response is awaited," it had said.

( Source : PTI )
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