India Against Corruption activists Arvind Kejriwal on Friday dropped another bombshell by revealing few names of the people who allegedly have bank accounts in HSBC, Geneva. They are a part of the list of roughly 700 people which was handed over to the Indian government in July 2011.
Kejriwal also accused the government, especially then Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, for showing leniency towards some of the top corporate whose names are allegedly in that list.
“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,” Kejriwal said.
While the Indian media keeps reiterating that Kejriwal’s expose contain repackaged information which was already out in public domain, no media outlet has till now reported or even attempted to find out the names of people in that list. This, despite reports that government was letting off these tax evaders by giving them a way out.
In complete contrast to what media in India do, a Greek journalist named Kostas Vaxevanis recently published a partial list containing details of 2059 bank accounts allegedly secretly held by Greeks in a Swiss branch of HSBC. The details were published in a Greek magazine Hot Doc. The list has names of prominent political and business figures of Greece.
According to media reports the names published by Vaxevanis are believed to be those contained in the so-called “Lagarde List” that was given in 2010 to the Greek Minister of Finance by the current head of the IMF and then-French minister for Finance, Christine Lagarde.
According to Amnesty International, a global human rights organization, Vaxevanis was charged with a misdemeanour for breach of the law on the protection of personal data and, if found guilty, could face a fine and a prison sentence, reportedly of up to two years.
Amnesty has expressed concern over the slapping of criminal charges against the journalist for disclosing information in the public interest.
Probe against HSBC
Meanwhile, this is not the first time such serious allegations have been raised against HSBC. In July this year, a probe report of the US Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations found that “global banking giant HSBC and its U.S. affiliate exposed the U.S. financial system to a wide array of money laundering, drug trafficking, and terrorist financing risks due to poor anti-money laundering (AML) controls.”