It is almost two years since the German Government had passed on the names and bank account details of eighteen Indians who had stashed their alleged ill-gotten wealth in the LGT bank of Liechtenstein, a well-known tax haven nation, 190 km from Munich, Germany.
Germany had officially handed over the list to the Indian Government on 18 March 2009. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee have since said more than once that this list cannot be disclosed to the Indian people. Opposition parties like the BJP and the Left Front have repeatedly said the names must be disclosed. The BJP has been accusing the government of shielding the names of the tax evaders and not doing enough to bring back the crores of rupees stashed away in tax havens.
Thus, the list has become a subject of tremendous controversy and suspense.
TEHELKA has accessed 16 of the 18 names, of which we are putting out 15 right now. These names include individuals as well as trusts. At this point, we are putting out 15 names without disclosing details like their addresses, the businesses they are involved in and the total money they have stored away in Liechtenstein. Abiding by the basic journalistic principle of proving the accused an opportunity to present their side of story, TEHELKA has approached each of these individuals involved and is awaiting their response.
Once these individuals respond, we shall share the full details of who these people are and what they do. We shall also put out their responses. This, then, is the list.
1. Manoj Dhupelia
2. Rupal Dhupelia
3. Mohan Dhupelia
4. Hasmukh Gandhi
5. Chintan Gandhi
6. Dilip Mehta
7. Arun Mehta
8. Arun Kochar
9. Gunwanti Mehta
10. Rajnikant Mehta
11. Prabodh Mehta
12. Ashok Jaipuria
13. Raj Foundation
14. Urvashi Foundation
15. Ambrunova Trust
The three trusts in this list are registered outside India.
The government has been claiming so far that a detailed investigation into all the bank account details provided by Germany is underway and making the names public would violate the agreement between two sovereign countries, India and Germany.
According to highly placed sources, the investigation into the 15 names that TEHELKA is disclosing, is close to completion and the Central Board of Direct taxes would soon prosecute these trusts and individuals under the relevant provisions of the Income tax Act.
The sources told TEHELKA that the two main charges proved against these individuals are of tax evasion and concealment of income.
The authorities also believe that some of these account holders could be fronts for high profile individuals. One name in particular is being investigated for suspected links with a well-known Indian politician.
The name of the chairman of a major Indian corporation is also part of the list, but TEHELKA is holding back his name until we have his full version.
According to Pranab Mukherjee, the German Government has provided the information under the strict confidentiality clauses of the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement, and hence they could not be disclosed at the stage of investigation.
However, once the government launches prosecutions, the name would be made public, he had said.
These 18 names are part of the list of 1,400 clients, which were stolen from the databank of LGT Group, the Liechtenstein bank owned by the principality’s ruling family, and passed on to German tax authorities in 2008.
The German government had paid as much as