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As reported by Vishwa Mohan of TNN in Times of India, Hyderabad Edition, on 21 May 2008: Welcome India silent on tax cheats Germany Ready To Reveal List Of Indians With Funds In Tax Haven Vishwa Mohan | TNN New Delhi: Investigators in India might have their best chance yet to trace those Indians who have stashed away millions in the tiny tax haven of Liechtenstein, a small landlocked country between Austria and Switzerland, provided the Manmohan Singh government asks for the information on offer. The dope on hundreds of rich Indians who have black money parked in Liechtenstein could be made available to the authorities here as the German government, which has obtained a list of account holders at Liechtenstein’s LTG Bank, is willing to part with the names. The German federal government has been willing to do this free of charge since February. Several countries including the US, the UK, Canada, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Ireland have already used the opportunity to zero in on their citizens who have evaded taxes and smuggled their wealth to the principality, the sixth-smallest country in the world. But Transparency International says India has maintained “a stoic silence over the issue and has not approached the German government for this data’’. Expressing concern over the India’s lackadaisical attitude in getting after offenders who have cheated the tax authorities of millions of dollars is quite surprising and the Indian chapter of TI— an international organization campaigning to reduce corruption— has urged the government to take all necessary steps to seek the data. Admiral R H Tahiliani, chairman of TI India and a former navy chief, said: “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.’’ Indeed, the offer looks too good to refuse. It is a bit like being served secrets on a platter and if the government does not waste time looking a gift horse in the mouth, it could get data that might otherwise never be accessed given the laws that protect tax havens that often require specific proof of criminality. In fact, the dice is invariably loaded against investigators— for example the Hindujas were able to delay proceedings in the Bofors case by challenging each application filed by CBI. Suspecting that the government’s chariness could stem from fears that politicians and industrialists might be compromised by the data, TI has, in a statement, said: “It is alleged that this money belongs to rich and powerful politicians, industrialists and stock brokers and that is why the reluctance on the part of Government of India (to get details from Germany).’’ Liechtenstein: Paradise for tax evaders In February, the head of Deutsche Post, Klaus Zumwinkel, was forced to resign after being accused of stashing funds away in Liechtenstein. On February 25, Germany said the details of the 800 non-German account-holders would be given to their respective countries free of cost. PMO blinks at Indians’ slush money abroad New Delhi: The list of rich Indians who have black money parked in Liechtenstein, a tax haven, could be made available to the Indian authorities as the German government, which has obtained a list of account holders at Liechtenstein’s LTG Bank, is willing to part with the names. German federal government has been willing to do this free of charge since February. Liechtenstein, like many other countries including Switzerland, St Kitts, Canary Islands, Antigua and Bahamas, has been a haven for wealthy people to hide their ill-gotten wealth away from the prying eyes of tax authorities. Referring to certain reports, the Transparency International (TI) mentioned that German intelligence agency —BND — has details of about 800 clients of LTG Bank — run by Liechtenstein’s ruling dynasty. “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 in its banking system,’’ TI said. Times View Government must not think twice before accepting the offer from Germany to reveal the names of those who have illegally stashed away money in Liechtenstein. Many, if not most, of the account holders are likely to be corrupt politicians and others hiding wealth obtained by dubious means, as Transparency International has rightly pointed out. If the government is serious about cleansing public life in India, the least it can do is accept such fortuitous offers with alacrity. The citizens have a right to know who is secreting away public money into personal accounts and the government has a duty to get that information if it can.