Rich Indians stash illegal $500bn abroad

Rich Indians have stashed away almost $500-billion of illicit money abroad, parking the funds in countries considered the “least corrupt”, the country’s top police agency said on Monday.

The issue of so-called “black money” has been a major political headache for India’s government, which has faced pressure from corruption activists and political opponents to do more to claw back money held abroad.

“It is estimated that around $500-billion of illegal money belonging to Indians is deposited in tax havens abroad,” AP Singh, director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), told an Interpol conference in New Delhi.

Singh said the countries rated as least corrupt by Transparency International, a global anti-graft watchdog, turned out to be the ones where “most of the corrupt money goes”.

“The tax havens include New Zealand, which is ranked as the least corrupt country, Singapore ranked number five and Switzerland number seven,” he said, according to the Press Trust of India.


Tax evaders
The CBI chief said that international agreements and other legal hurdles prevented the Indian government from exposing the identity of the tax evaders and bringing the wealth back to the country.

“There are many obstacles to asset recovery. Not only is it a specialised legal process filled with delays and uncertainty but there are also language barriers and a lack of trust when working with other countries,” Singh said.

Heaping further embarrassment on the beleaguered Congress-led government, India’s Supreme Court last year accused it of being reluctant to publish details about untaxed money held in overseas bank accounts.

Singh said criminals were using territorial restrictions of investigating agencies to their advantage and spreading their crime to at least two countries before investing in a third.

“For criminals all it involves is setting up of a few shell companies and then making layered transfers from account to another in a matter of hours as there are no boundaries in banking transactions,” he said.

Think-tank
The World Bank pegs the cross-border flow of money from criminal activities and tax evasion at around $1.5-trillion, of which $40-billion is in bribes paid to government servants in developing countries, according to Singh.

ASSOCHAM, a prominent Indian trade body and think-tank, recently suggested that the government provide a window to tax evaders to disclose their assets parked abroad in exchange for amnesty.

Those making such disclosures would have to pay half the amount as taxes to the Indian government.

“The fact remains that as on date it may not be possible to get hold of these persons who have stashed money abroad that is why the scheme is an invitation to these people to come forward and pay taxes,” it said in a report. — AFP

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Let’s go back to the NDP

To improve the South African economy, we need to institute practical measures to effect change

Bodies of foreign climbers retrieved from Indian mountain

A group of mountaineers from the paramilitary Indo-Tibetan Border Police found the seven bodies near an unnamed peak on Nanda Devi East.

US ‘expects’ SA to hand over ex-Mozambique minister

US Assistant Secretary of State Tibor Nagy said he expected Pretoria to honour the extradition accord it signed in September 1999

Corruption perception index released, US out of top 20

For the first time since 2011, the United States has not made the list of top 20 countries perceived to be least corrupt in the world

​South Africans get first dibs on SAFCOIN, an exclusive African cryptocurrency

For the price of a take-away meal, South Africans can become crpytocurrency investors

China mum on missing Interpol chief

Meng Hongwei was last seen leaving for China in late September from the Interpol headquarters in Lyon, southeast France
Advertising

Subscribers only

The shame of 40 000 missing education certificates

Graduates are being left in the lurch by a higher education department that is simply unable to deliver the crucial certificates proving their qualifications - in some cases dating back to 1992

The living nightmare of environmental activists who protest mine expansion

Last week Fikile Ntshangase was gunned down as activists fight mining company Tendele’s expansions. Community members tell the M&G about the ‘kill lists’ and the dread they live with every day

More top stories

Fifteen witnesses for vice-chancellor probe

Sefako Makgatho University vice-chancellor Professor Peter Mbati had interdicted parliament last month from continuing with the inquiry

Constitutional Court ruling on restructuring dispute is good for employers

A judgment from the apex court empowers employers to change their workers’ contracts — without consultation

Audi Q8: Perfectly cool

The Audi Q8 is designed to be the king in the elite SUV class. But is it a victim of its own success?

KZN officials cash in on ‘danger pay for Covid-19’

Leadership failures at Umdoni local municipality in KwaZulu-Natal have caused a ‘very unhappy’ ANC PEC to fire the mayor and chief whip
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday