Cannes : Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday once again sought the attention of G20 leaders on the issue of illicit money outflows and tax havens and said this problem must be addressed, and fast.
“Tax evasion and illicit flows have seen the migration of tax bases in developing countries abroad and are serious problems,” the prime minister told the 6th G20 Summit here, that focused primarily on Greece ane Eurozone crisis.
“The G-20 should send a strong message to curb such activity,” the prime minister said, even as tax investigations were on back in India against 782 people suspected of having stashed away unaccounted wealth in accounts with the HSBC Bank in Geneva.
“The G20 countries should take the lead in agreeing to automatic exchange of tax related information with each other, irrespective of artificial distinctions such as past or present, for tax evasion or tax fraud, in the spirit of our London Summit that ‘the era of bank secrecy is over’.”
In a meeting with economic editors in New Delhi last month, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had said the government had information from France that Rs.400 crore was held as unaccounted money in 69 accounts by Indians.
The finance minister said the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) with France had helped India extract information regarding Indians having foreign bank accounts.
The government has been under pressure to act against people who have money stashed away in tax havens across the world. It had set up several bodies, including a directorate under the aegis of the Central Board of Direct Taxes, to unravel these secret bank accounts.