Modi government sets up special team to probe black money in tax havens

The newly formed government has constituted a high-level Special Investigation Team (SIT) at its first cabinet meeting, presided over by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to investigate and bring back black money stashed away abroad, an official statement said. The decision comes just a day before the Supreme Court’s directive to form the SIT was set to expire.

The SIT will be headed by former Supreme Court judge MB Shah, while another retired Supreme Court judge Arijit Pasayat would be its vice-chairman.

The SIT will also include high-profile government officials like Revenue Secretary, Deputy Governor of Reserve Bank of India, Director of Intelligence Bureau, Director of Enforcement Directorate, Director, Central Bureau of Investigation, Research and Analysis Wing chief, Director-General of Revenue Intelligence, Chairman of the Central Board of Direct Taxes and Director of Financial Intelligence, as per  the statement.

"The SIT has been charged with the responsibility and duties of investigation, initiation of proceedings and prosecution in cases of Hasan Ali and other matters involving unaccounted money,” the statement showed.

The team shall have jurisdiction in the cases where investigations have already commenced or are pending or awaiting to be initiated or have been completed. SIT will prepare a comprehensive action plan including creation of necessary institutional structure that could help the problem of unaccounted money. It would report to the court the status of work from time to time.

“In the first Cabinet of the new the light of the directions of the SC, we have constituted an SIT for unearthing black money... This was an important issue for us,” Union Law and Justice, Communications and Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, while briefing the media after the cabinet meeting.

Earlier this month, a Supreme Court bench comprising justices HL Dattu, Ranjana Prakash Desai and MB Lokur asked the government to furnish all the names and documents pertaining to 26 cases to the former Law Minister and senior advocate Ram Jethmalani and others, who had raised the issue and filed a petition seeking details of the black money stashed in foreign banks.

The government had earlier revealed names of 18 persons after resisting for around three years despite the apex court order passed in 2011. Besides, the central government submitted before the apex court a sealed envelope containing the names of other individuals related to eight other cases in which it found no evidence of tax evasion.

Jethmalani had sought directions to the government to file the list of names of those having accounts in Liechtenstein Bank with respect of which investigations have been concluded, either partially or wholly.

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