Transparency International says India should act on Liechtenstein

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Transparency International, India, issued this press release today. I think it worth reproducing in full:

Transparency International, India is concerned over the attitude of the Indian Government in seeking information from the German Government about millions of dollars of un-accounted-for money, belonging to the people of India, lying in Liechtenstein, a small country near Germany.

The Indian Chapter of Transparency International, an International not-for-profit organization, working towards reducing corruption, has urged the Government of India to take all necessary steps to seek the data that the German Government had offered, free of charge in February this year.

Reacting to a report by one of the newspapers, Chairman, Transparency International India, Admiral (retd.) R H Tahiliani said this morning,"this money belongs to the people of India and it is possible that it has been tucked away in this distant country by those who have acquired it illegally and are now evading tax. There should be complete transparency and accountability about this money and it is for the Government to find this out and inform people".

Earlier, German Government had offered to provide information on accounts to various nations, world over including India, without charging any fees. USA, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Canada, Italy, U.K, Ireland and other nations expressed interest in obtaining this data. The Indian Government however has maintained a stoic silence over the issue and has not approached the German Government for looking into this data. It is alleged that this money belongs to the rich and powerful politicians, industrialists and stock brokers and that is why the reluctance on the part of Government of India, since the revelation of names could lead to the fall of Government.

Liechtenstein, like many other countries including Switzerland, St Kitts, Antigua and Bahamas, is a haven for moneyed people to hide their ill gotten wealth. The crown prince of this country is alleged to be angry with Germany for spearheading a crackdown on tax evasion investigation involving funds hidden away in his country's vaults. It is being said that the German intelligence agency, BND, has details of more than 700 clients of the LTG Bank and German prosecutors are using this information to target hundreds of suspected tax evaders.

The Indian Ministry of Finance and PMO have however not shown much interest in finding out about those who have their lockers in the secret banks of Liechtenstein which prides itself of their banking system. India is a responsible member of various world forums and a time when we are talking of transparency and accountability, should it not be the duty of our Government to seek information and reveal the names of the people who have stashed away their ill gotten wealth abroad, in a bid to evade tax?

Such secretive and non transparent tax havens can pose problems of terrorism since no one knows how these will be used. It's a global threat and can be used any which way to harm the peace and harmony globally.

More importantly, it is our money and people of India have a right to know about the details. It belongs to us and cannot be denied to us for long .Its time we all woke up and demand what is rightfully ours.

The obvious question is, why is India taking this attitude. Does it know there are embarrassing names on that list?