Pranab Mukherjee to speak with Swiss banks on secret accounts

Last Updated: Tue, Aug 25, 2009 03:30 hrs

New Delhi: The Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee, on Monday said he will examine the issue of reported unwillingness of Swiss authorities to divulge the names and other details of Indians who hold secret, illegal accounts with banks there.

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"I have just read this in the newspaper. I will talk with the Swiss banks later and then comment on the same," Mukherjee told reporters at his office at the North Block, reacting to a report on the matter.

The report said Swiss banks were unwilling to part with the details of individual Indian account holders, hindering New Delhi's bid to unearth black money purportedly stashed away there behind strict Swiss banking laws.

But with the US, the Swiss authorities already have a pact under which one of their top banks will hand over to the US Internal Revenue Service the details of some 4,500 secret accounts worth $18 billion.

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Mukherjee had earlier informed Parliament that the Swiss authorities had agreed to negotiate on the matter and said the Government had not only taken up the matter with Switzerland but also other countries.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and the Janata Dal - United (JD-U) took exception to the government's statement.

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"When the US Government can get the list of persons, why can't the Indian government. It is the responsibility of the Government. How can there be double standards?" the CPI(M) Politburo Member, Brinda Karat, told reporters here.

"We do not have any authentic knowledge about what has been going on. In Parliament, the Finance Minister had made a categorical statement that the Government was talking to the Swiss authorities," Karat added.

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Echoing her sentiments was JD-U president Sharad Yadav. "America is powerful and so it got its work done. India does not actually want to do it at all. It could have been done had we put pressure on the Swiss authorities properly," he said at a press conference in the capital.