news Tuesday, April 07, 2015 - 05:30
With Prime Minister Narendra Modi scheduled to visit France this week, Hervé Falciani, a former employee of HSBC Private Bank has written an open letter to the PM seeking his support on the “black money” issue. The letter is published in full in an article in the The Caravan magazine , which also has an interview of the man. He claimed in an interview with NDTV in November last year that he could help the Indian authorities with regard to the black money probe. In his letter, addressed to the PM, Falciani begins by seeking Modi’s support into the investigation, adding that he believed in the PM’s determination to weed out the problem. He also asks if Modi could visit him in Paris. Falciani adds “as a group of insiders”, they had a lot of experience in dealing with such matters and urged the PM to include the judiciary in the probe. He also justifies the recommendation, saying that the interaction between the officials of the Ministry of Finance and the tax authorities at the government level was limited. In another suggestion he added that he wished channels existed that would allow “for the flow of complementary expertise” from insiders or “whistleblowers” also writing that he welcomed “the news that India is considering a new set of anti-black-money laws”. The letter then lists four suggestions for the PM that would help tackle the menace of black-money: 1.) Increase transparency to fight opacity: The letter mentions that there should be room for the active participation of civil society and independent bodies in audits. He also cites a need for “information-sharing between governments to allow investigators to share information across borders”. 2.) Target mechanisms, and hold banks accountable rather than focus solely on individuals: Falciani writes that he expects the state to stand up not just against individuals charged, but also against banks which had been indulging in money-laundering and tax frauds. 3.) Focus on big corporations that exploit these mechanisms to stash their wealth abroad:The Frenchman writes that corporate tax is essential for a nation’s development adding that if companies not pay for the services they benefit from, it is unfair to the average citizen. 4.) Strengthen whistle-blower protection laws for not just public servants but also insiders in public/private sectors: Falciani writes that the ones who blow the whistle on an illegality should be given adequate compensation, further saying that "whistleblowers" shouldn’t be seen as “mercenaries” but those under tremendous pressure who face unemployment and even death in the worst cases. Finally, Falciani wrote that “we wish to build bridges with India” and that he was looking forward to the support that the PM would hopefully extend towards him. In 2008, Falciani, as an employee of the HSBC Private Bank (Suisse) in Geneva, reportedly leaked data to French authorities which were sorted by them according to country and sent out to those countries concerned. The lists were known as the “HSBC lists” and India received its list in 2011. The report adds that the French newspaper Le Monde shared information regarding the HSBC lists with journalists in February this year following which a report in The Indian Express mentioned the names of 100 Indians with Swiss accounts. Reportedly Indian authorities are now aware of 1,195 account holders, up from the earlier 628 that they were aware of. The whistleblower reportedly says that he “needs help to be able to help India”. Read more at: On the eve of Modi's France visit, the HSBC whistleblower writes an open letter to the PM on India's black-money probe

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