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You are part of the taskforce created to bring black money back from secret bank accounts abroad. The BJP has made it an election issue. Were you instrumental in getting Mr Advani to take up the issue?
This is a subject I have been working on since 1986. In fact, I was even arrested because I was trying to dig into the secret accounts of the Gandhi family. I have always been talking to many politicians on this subject; I had also spoken to the BJP.
At that time, it was more ideal to work on it than anything practical. It is not that India on its own can prevent global black money being generated, because there are countries which help the generation of black money by their laws, and Switzerland is the most important of them.
These countries provide secrecy, and anybody can go and deposit money incognito. Their laws prohibit the disclosure of names. Only rarely, where you can link the money to corruption or drugs, is it possible to trace the flight of capital. For that, they have treaties with different countries, including with India. But you need to know the name of the criminal and his account number to ask for the details.
It has always been a question on the minds of the Indian people and also those keen on establishing the amount of money that has gone there, but there was no proper estimate. But this has always been a topic of debate in the minds of those who are interested in the country."
Were the recent developments in Germany, with its authorities asking for the secret names, the turning point?
The Germans took the step of bribing a bank official of the LGT Bank in Liechtenstein by paying $6 million. They got a secret CD containing 1,500 names of people who have stashed away money, and nearly 500, 600 of these were Germans. They acted against them, which included the head of the German postal system.
Then they told the entire world that anyone could ask for the names and if the names of those countries' nationals were there, they would part with it free of cost. All the countries made a request, but not India. So, Advaniji wrote a letter in April last year, but an evasive reply was given.
Three other things also happened. One, after Germany acted very powerfully, there was a big diplomatic row between Liechtenstein and Germany. Liechtenstein is a place from where secret trusts are created and monies are deposited into Switzerland. It is a principality.
Then, Germany took up the issue in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development's 17-nation platform (Switzerland is one of them) and asked for blacklisting and sanctions against Switzerland. France also joined Germany. This happened some time in October last year.
Switzerland did not know what to do then and they began lobbying. France and Germany then took it to the G-20 preparatory meeting. They said at the G-20 meeting on April 2 that they were asking for blacklisting of and sanctions against Switzerland and all those countries that were not cooperating."