In a major exposé on the secretive HSBC’s Swiss Banking operations, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has made public a list with over 1 lakh names with accounts in the HSBC’s Swiss Banking arm. In the report India ranks 16th with 1,195 names. An earlier list given to the Indian government by the French authorities had only 628 names. Now with the ‘Swiss Leaks’ the number of names have almost doubled.
The Swiss banks are known for their ultra secretive banking operations and thus it is one of the most sought after destination for black money holders all over the world. It is very likely that the majority of black money stashed abroad will be stored in these Swiss banks. Given that the swiss leaks documents are very important as they have listed the people who have accounts in the HSBC Swiss branch, a piece of information that may not have been possible for the Indian Government to unearth due to the secretive protocols of the Swiss Banks.
All the Swiss bank accounts may not have black money deposited in them but it is suspected that most of the black money holders stash their ill gotten wealth in these Swiss banks, far from the prying eyes of tax authorities.
In 2012 Arvind Kejriwal has repeatedly alleged that the Ambani brothers have Swiss bank accounts, which the Tycoon Brothers have time and again rejected. Kejriwal had then daringly declared “I have the Swiss bank account numbers of Anil and Mukesh Ambani here with me. Shall I read them?… 5090160983 and 5090160984, HSBC Bank“.
The names i revealed in a PC on 9 Nov 2012 are there in IE list today. We stand vindicated(1/3)
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) February 9, 2015
Now with the ‘Swiss Leaks’ Kejriwal have been proven right. So what stopped them from admitting that they have accounts in the HSBC Swiss bank?
It is not only the Ambanis but many other well known persons like Naresh Goyal of Jet Airways, Yashovardhan Birla and Congress former MP Annu Tandon were accused by Kejriwal of hiding black money in secret Swiss Bank accounts.
Let’s see which are the most prominent names mentioned in the Swiss leaks’ list.
Mukesh Ambani, the Chairman and Managing director of Reliance Industries Pvt. Ltd, is reported to have two Swiss accounts with average joint balance of $26.6 million. The richest man of Indian, Ambani is a Standford University dropout and owns the IPL franchise of Mumbai Indians. He has been earlier accused of irregularities in the pricing of natural gas from KG basin. His total net worth is $23.6 billion.
Anil Ambani, the younger of the Ambani brothers has also been named in the list with a total balance of $26.6 million. Anil Ambani, the chairman of the Reliance Group, has a total net worth of $5.9 billion.In the past few years he has entered the movie industry in a big way and is now one of the largest producers of Bollywood movies. His company Reliance MediaWorks has a tie up with Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks. Through this tie up he has jointly produced quite a few Spielberg movies, including the Academy award winning movie Lincoln.
The owner of Jet Airways, Naresh Goyal has three Swiss Accounts with HSBC. His total balance has been shown as $18.7 million. According to the Indian Express report on Swiss Leaks ‘Detailed internal notes are attached, listing the number of “relationships” the bank has had with Goyal, including the opening of a new account for Tailwinds Ltd. At meetings with bankers in Geneva in September 2005, Goyal discussed the fallout of rulings he got from the cantonal tax department in Switzerland. He wanted all guarantees taken over by HSBC, and other large sums transferred to the bank’.
Yashovardhan Birla, the chairman of Yash Birla Group, has a account in the HSBC Switzerland. The young Birla scion who took over the reign of the company at the young age of 23 after the demise of his parents , has been instrumental the company’s growth and diversification. The account balance has not been provided in the report submitted by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.
The Burman Family, the owners of Dabur, between themselves has several Swiss accounts and their total deposits amounts to $12 millions. ‘Director Sidharth Burman had seven accounts, with son Saket a joint holder in one account. Sidharth’s brother Pradip Burman had eight accounts, $6.02 million’. Pradip Burman’s name had earlier surfaced when the government of India had released three names of Swiss bank holders. Dabur had then rejected the black money charge against Pradip Burman.
Dattaraj Salgaocar and Dipti Salgaocar
The owner and managing director of the V M Salgaocar Group, Dattaraj Salgaocar and his wife and Sister of Ambani brothers, Dipti Salgaocar have been named in the list of Indian Swiss bank account holders. All the four members of the Goa based family have accounts in the HSBC swiss branch. While the balance in the children’ account has not been mentioned, Dattaraj’s account shows no account balance. But Dipti Salgaocar’s account had a maximum balance of $5.17 million.
The vice Chairman of Dalmia pvt ltd, Anurag Dalmia, is reported to have four Swiss Accounts with HSBC and the combined balance is $9.6 million. The main companies under the Dalmia group are GHCL (Gujarat Heavy Chemicals Limited) and GTC (Golden Tobacco Company). The group also has businesses in the Textile manufacturing and healthcare.
Kuldip Singh Dhingra, Gurbachan Singh Dhingra
The name of Kuldip Singh Dhingra and Gurbachan Singh Dhingra, the Chairman of Berger Paints and the vice president of the group respectively, has surfaced in the recently disclosed list of HSBC Swiss bank account holders. They were featured in the 2014 Forbes list of wealthiest Indians. They have four accounts between them and they had a combined balance of $4.14 million in 2006-2007.
Like Kejriwal, Sandeep Tandon too was an officer in the Indian Revenue Service. After voluntary retirement he had joined Reliance Industries and became a close aide of Mukesh Ambani. He had three accounts in the Swiss HSBC with Anil and Mukesh Ambani as trustees. The deposits in his three accounts amounted to $26.8 million. He died in 2010.
Kumar Venu Raman
Another Former IRS officer mentioned in the list, Kumar Venu Raman’s Geneva account had a balance of $3.06 million. According to The Indian Express Raman ‘took premature retirement to join the Essar Group, Kumar Venu Raman became an angel investor. He was founder and former CEO of MModal Inc, one of the largest clinical documentation technology companies, which he sold to J P Morgan’s private equity arm two years ago. He was also President of Cbay Inc and is currently Chairman and Managing Director of Aeries Group, an investment platform which also manages funds of his family. He continues to be a Director in MModal Inc.’
Adm S M Nanda, Suresh Nanda
Admiral S M Nanda was the Navy Chief during the 1971 Indo-Pak War.After retirement he founded the Crown Corporation that dealt with Arm contracts. His son Suresh’s name have been linked to defence deal scandals and his grandson Sanjeev is infamous for the BMW hit and run case. The admiral had one joint account with his sons which had a balance of $1.34 million as of 2006-2007. He also held a account with son Suresh which had a balance of $478,864. Suresh also holds three more accounts in the HSBC Swiss branch with a total balance of $478,532.
Mohammad Hasseeb Shaw
The Managing Director of the Srinagar-based Cottage Arts Emporium, Mohammad Hasseeb Shaw, is an exporter of Kashmiri carpets and pashmina shawls. He has a joint account with his father Shaw Abdul Rashid and the total balance on 2006-07 was $2.13 million. The owner of a network of petrol pumps and automobile dealerships, Brijendra Kumar Poddar has a account in Swiss arm of HSBC with a balance of Rs 5.9 crore.
The wife of Former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh Preneet Kaur’s name has surfaced in the list of HSBC Swiss bank account holders. The former minister in the UPA led government , Preneet Kaur, has a account in HSBC but the balance has not been mentioned in the Swiss Leaks. In an earlier statement she had mentioned that “In keeping with my reply to the I-T Department, I would like to state that I never had, and do not have any bank account(s) overseas in my name with any foreign bank.” According to Indian Express no details of a HSBC account has been declared in her asset declaration form to the Election Commission.
Neelam Narayan Rane, Nilesh Rane
According to the Swiss Leaks the former Maharashtra CM Narayan Rane’s Wife Neelam Rane and his son Nilesh have accounts in the HSBC Swiss branch. According to Indian Express ‘Neelam runs a hotel chain while Nilesh is his father’s political heir. He has been a Lok Sabha MP. He lost in the 2014 elections. The only details available for Neelam Rane and Nilesh Rane are their dates of birth and their Bandra address, all verified.’
Smita Jaydev Thackeray
The Daughter in law of Bal Thackeray , Smita Jaydev Thackeray has a account in the HSBC according to the SwissLeaks. Smita Thackeray is a film producer and her account showed a maximum balance of Rs 64 lakh in the year 2006-07.
Jitendra Virwani and his wife has a joint account in the HSBC Swiss arm with a maximum balance of Rs 9 lakh in 2006-07. According to the Indian Express ‘Jitendra Virwani is Chairman of Bangalore-based Embassy Group, one of the pioneers in construction of office parks and commercial technology complexes in the country. His projects include Manyata Park and Embassy Golf Links in Bangalore and he is known to pick his tenants — such as IBM, Microsoft and Target — before the projects are completed. The Indian arm of Blackstone invested recently in four of his company’s technology parks. He has figured in the Forbes list of richest Indians and has a penchant for rearing thoroughbreds.’
Ashvin Prakash Kumar
Ashvin Prakash Kumar, the youngest Indian Director to be nominated for a Oscar, has a account in HSBC Swiss bank with a 2006-07 balance of $4,849. He is the son of designer Ritu Kumar. Ashvin is an independent award winning filmmaker and a script writer.
Rajan Parshad Nanda
Rajan Parshad Nanda is the son in law of late actor Raj Kapoor. He is the managing director of Escorts ltd. According to the Swiss leaks reports Nanda has an account in the Swiss arm of HSBC. According to the Indian Express ‘HSBC data shows Rajan Nanda opened an account in 2002 under Centerville Consultancy Limited. There are no details of the money in the account.’
Ritu (Mahima) Chaudhry
According to SwissLeaks the pardes Actress, Mahima Chaudhry has a account with the HSBC. She is the only actress in the list of Indian Swiss bank account holders. Mahima is known to be a congress supporter and have campaigned quite a few times for congress candidates in Delhi.
Other prominent names that have surfaced in the report are Rajan Nanda, Chandru Lachhmandas Raheja, Bhadrashyam Kothari and Shravan Gupta. Quite a few names of top diamond traders were disclosed in the report. Some of those names are Rusell Mehta, Anoop Mehta, Saunak Parikh,
Chetan Mehta, Govindbhai Kakadia and Kunal Shah. Politician Annu Tandon, a former Congress MP and Family members of late Congress minister Vasant Sathe Bal have also been mentioned in the report.
The report has also evoked strong reactions from Politicians across party lines and anti corruption crusaders. Here are some of the comments and tweets.
Here is evidence of where our national wealth,meant for infrastructure +nation building went..Truly Criminal pic.twitter.com/pdDDZGOt4a
— Kiran Bedi (@thekiranbedi) February 9, 2015
FM must clarify why does it take a newspaper to expose illicit money holders? What exactly are the governmental agencies doing? #SwissLeaks
— Raghav Chadha (@raghav_chadha) February 9, 2015
— Sagarika Ghose (@sagarikaghose) February 9, 2015
By: Avinandan Choudhury