New Delhi, Nov 9 (IBNS) Activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal on Friday targeted industrialists Mukesh and Anil Ambani, Jet Airways owner Naresh Goyal and Congress MP Annu Tandon, in the latest salvo in his series of high profile corruption and impropriety ‘exposes’.
He alleged that the powerbrokers were among 700 Indians who allegedly siphoned crores of unaccounted wealth or “black money” to the Geneva branch of HSBC Bank, which he accused of "openly and brazenly running a hawala racket in India".
The charges were promptly denied by the accused.
At a press conference on Friday, Kejriwal made his latest ‘expose’ where he named Congress MP Anu Tandon, who is close to Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi, as one of the Swiss bank account holders who had stashed illicit wealth abroad.
He also accused, Reliance brothers Mukesh and Anil Ambani and Jet Airways owner Naresh Goyal and the Dabur Group, among others, who he claimed operated through HSBC Bank which is "facilitating hawala transactions and money laundering in India."
Accusing the ruling Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) coalition at the Centre of having “sold Indian democracy”, he said his struggle is against the government.
"Tax deducted at source from small salaried people but hawala route for rich and powerful? Where does PM's loyalties lie?" Kejriwal tweeted.
"It is being projected as my fight against Reliance or HSBC. My struggle is against my govt who I voted to power. Why is govt silent?," he said.
"PM must reply why taxes collected from aam aadmi but rich and powerful let off?" Kejriwal posted on micro-blogging site Twitter.
Kejriwal earlier in the day said that he was tipped off by a senior Congress leader himself on this and alleged that the government instead of cracking down is trying to save the account holders.
"The government of Manmohan Singh is a threat to the country's sovereignty," he said, adding that HSBC Bank is a threat to India and it can also channelize money for terrorism in India given its illegal operations.
Demanding action against all names through an honest officer and closure of the bank in India, Kejriwal said in Dec 2006, Mukesh Ambani and Anil Ambani had Rs 100 crore each while Anu Tandon had Rs 125 crore.
He said President Pranab Mukherjee must answer why he said in Parliament as Finance Minister there is no MP's name in the list.
He said about 700 people have a total of Rs 6000 crore in Swiss banks and the French government in July 2011 had in a CD given the names of those 700 Indians to the Indian government, all of whom have HSBC Geneva branch accounts.
He said Unnao MP Anu Tandon, who is wife of late Income Tax officer turned Reliance top shot Sandeep Tandon, has Rs 125 crores. He said Rs 2100 crores of Motech Software run by them and Reliance group of Mukesh Ambani is parked in Swiss accounts.
Kejriwal said Jet Airways honcho Naresh Goyal had Rs 80 crores in the account in 2006.
Yashovardhan Birla too had an account but in Dec 2006 it has no balance.
He said Dabur group also has Rs 25 crore in a Swiss bank account.
IAC said the present CBI Director once said that more than $ 500 billion of Indian black money was stashed abroad.
"A major chunk of this money is believed to be lying in Swiss banks in Switzerland. Would this money every come back to India? Developments of the last few years have given a ray of hope that if Indian Government acted tough like its US counterpart did a few years back, India also might get access to the list of those having their undeclared accounts abroad. However, Indian government seems to be more interested in helping the guilty rather than punishing them," said IAC.
"The money stashed in Swiss banks can be repatriated but it won't happen owing to the government which is hand in glove with the account holders and compromising economic sovereignty," said Kejriwal.
Kejriwal said President Pranab Mukherjee, a former Union Finance Minister, had made an elaborate scheme to guard these 700 Swiss accounts holders.
Kejriwal said Sandeep Tandon had as an Income Tax officer raided Reliance and then started working for them. Tandon was also in Enforcement Directorate.
"Anu Tandon is core group member of Rahul Gandhi. No one knows whose money it is that they have in Swiss bank," said Kejriwal, pointing out the proximity of Rahul Gandhi and Anu Tandon.
"Pranab Mukherjee had said there was no MP in the list that has come. But Anu Tandon is an MP," said Arvind Kejriwal.
He accused Pranab Mukherjee of stalling raids on the Ambanis.
Kejriwal also slammed HSBC Bank for engaging in hawala transactions.
"If someone from Pakistan wants to send money to India for terrorism, HSBC can do it for them," said Kejriwal.
"They can open account for you in Geneva here itself and you need not go there," he said.
Kejriwal said on July 28 2011, the Income Tax (IT) Department raided three people in Delhi based on this list and they had all admitted in written statements how HSBC could open Swiss account for anyone right here in India within a day.
He said if the Indian government wants, it can stop operations of HSBC and their top officers can be arrested and they can get all the names of Swiss bank account holders.
He said top officers of HSBC should be arrested because they have made India vulnerable to drugs and terror.
"All HSBC operations in India should be suspended," he said.
He urged all 32,000 employees of HSBC to resign from their jobs.
Kejriwal said the UBS bank had shared a list of account holders with the US government earlier and if the Indian government wants HSBC and UBS operations in India can be stopped and their top shots arrested.
Activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan said crony in India it is crony capitalism at its worst and the entire exercise is also blatant violation of FEMA (Foreign Exchange Management Act) laws.
India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) sought the opportunity to target the ruling Congress party and also demanded investigation against HSBC Bank.
"We demand that HSBC be investigated as varied versions are coming out," BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said while addressing a press conference on Friday.
Attacking the Congress on the issue of black money, she said: "Congress party should face the truth and tell us what they have achieved in terms of tackling black money."
The Congress meanwhile said the fresh charges were 'baseless'.
Congress leader Jagdambika Pal told media: "These are absolutely baseless charges. The UPA is serious on the issue of black money."
Earlier the same day, Tandon too had negated Kejriwal's charges and called them 'rubbish' and 'baseless'.
Reacting to the charges made against her, Tandon told media: "Allegations against me are absolutely baseless and malicious."
"I completely deny all this rubbish," Tandon said.
India’s largest private sector company Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) too denied charges levelled against it and said neither the company nor its chairman Mukesh Ambani has any 'illegitimate accounts anywhere in the world'.
"Reliance Industries Limited denies all allegations made by IAC (India Against Corruption) against Reliance and Mr. Mukesh Ambani in their press conference today," the diversified conglomerate said in a statement.
"Neither Reliance Industries Limited nor Mr. Mukesh Ambani have or had any illegitimate accounts anywhere in the world," it said.
"Reliance Industries Limited has business interests in several countries with turnover of thousands of crores in Rupees. As a part of their normal business, these international subsidiaries of Reliance Industries Limited deal with several global banks including HSBC," read the RIL statement.
"These accounts are fully compliant with all regulations and are disclosed in their appropriate jurisdictions and in India. The continued tirade of baseless allegations being made by IAC against us appears to be instigated by vested interests," it said.
The Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group Friday too rubbished charges that its chairman Anil Ambani has accounts with HSBC's Geneva branch.
A statement issued by a spokesperson for Anil D. Ambani refuting the allegations of IAC leader Arvind Kejriwal said, "Mr. Anil D. Ambani had no bank accounts with HSBC in Geneva".
"It is regrettable that such baseless allegations are being made by IAC at the behest of vested interests," it said.
Private carrier Jet Airways trashed the report that its chairman Naresh Goyal has an account in HSBC Bank's Geneva branch to keep black money.
Jet Airways in a statement said: "There is no account in the name Mr Naresh Goyal in the Swiss bank as has been alleged. Besides, Mr Naresh Goyal has been an NRI since January 1991. He is entitled to have bank accounts outside India.
"The suggestion that there has been any unaccounted money stashed away in Swiss accounts is entirely false," the statement said.
Dabur India also said it regretted allegations made by India Against Corruption against the Burman brothers.
"It was unfortunate that every person having a foreign bank account is being painted with the same brush," the Dabur group said in its statement.
Claiming that the monies have been sent out of the declared and tax-assessed incomes received in India, the statement said the amounts have been officially remitted from India through official banking channels and as per applicable FEMA guidelines.
HSBC Bank in India tpp came out with a cautious reaction to the money laundering allegations saying it takes compliance with the law very seriously.
"HSBC Bank in India notes certain allegations made today. The bank cannot comment on the specific details of the allegations that have been made, which relate to issues in the past," the bank said in its statement.
"HSBC takes compliance with the law, wherever it operates, very seriously. With a new senior global leadership team and a new strategy in place since last year, HSBC continues to take concrete steps to strengthen compliance, risk management and culture," the bank added.
The latest sensation expose comes in the wake of a scathing attack by Kejriwal on both the Congress and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) by "exposing" what it called the pandering of the governments led by both parties before corporates like Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) which dictated terms in distribution and pricing of resources like natural gas.
IAC said Mukesh Ambani was forcing the UPA government to hike gas prices while honest Congress ministers like Mani Shankar Aiyar and S Jaipal Reddy of Congress were shifted out of the petroleum and natural gas ministries because they had stood up to Reliance pressures.
Kejriwal said BJP too is in the pocket of Ambani since in 2002, KG basin contract was given in a faulty way to Reliance by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government.
IAC earlier "exposed" the business dealings of BJP president Nitin Gadkari and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra who they alleged benefitted from the Haryana government favours to realty firms like DLF at the expense of farmers whose lands were acquired by force.