Arvind Kejriwal goes after Ambanis, Jet; says HSBC running a hawala ring

Nov 09 2012, 22:02 IST
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Arvind Kejriwal (Reuters) Arvind Kejriwal (Reuters)
SummaryArvind Kejriwal demanded the arrest of top officials of HSBC for money-laundering, and the immediate suspension of the bank’s operations in India.

Team Kejriwal targeted the Ambanis, Jet Airways chief Naresh Goyal and HSBC Bank in its latest attack Friday, accusing the bank of providing doorstep service for opening new accounts in its branch in Geneva, and enabling withdrawal of that money by the hawala route.

At a press conference, Arvind Kejriwal demanded the arrest of top officials of HSBC for money-laundering, and the immediate suspension of the bank’s operations in India.

Kejriwal named 10 individuals and firms that he said were on a list of 700 accountholders in Swiss banks which France had supplied to the Indian government. They are, besides Mukesh Ambani, Anil Ambani and Goyal, the Ambani brothers’ mother Kokilaben, Mukesh Ambani’s flagship Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), Reliance group company MoTech Software Pvt Ltd., Congress MP from Unnao Annu Tandon and her late husband Sandeep, three members of the Burman family that owns Dabur, and Yashovardhan Birla, chairman of the Yash Birla group.

The accounts of Birla and Kokilaben Ambani had no balance at the time the list was prepared.

Kejriwal said his primary source of information was a Congress leader who became a minister recently — a statement that Kejriwal declined to acknowledge during a television interview later.

RIL denied the charges. In a statement, the group said, “Neither Reliance Industries not Mukesh Ambani have or had any illegitimate accounts anywhere in the world. RIL has business interests in several countries with turnover of thousands of crores of rupees. As part of their normal business, these international subsidiaries of RIL deal with several global banks including HSBC. These accounts are fully compliant with all regulations and are disclosed in their appropriate jurisdictions and in India. The continued tirade of baseless alllegations made by IAC against us appears to be instigated by vested interests.”

A spokesperson for Jet Airways denied allegations of wrongdoing, and said that since Goyal is a non-resident Indian, he is entitled to have “bank accounts outside India”.

“The suggestion that there has been any unaccounted money stashed away in Swiss accounts is entirely false,” the spokesperson said. Jet’s Isle of Man-based parent company, Tailwinds, does have an account at HSBC, Geneva, the spokesperson said, but added that “the existence of the company M/s Tailwinds Ltd is fully disclosed to various departments of the Government of India”, and “all questions have been satisfactorily replied to the Income-Tax department”.

In a statement, HSBC expressed its “commitment” to India and “compliance” with Indian

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