Seven years of investigations and considerable notoriety later, the government has got little evidence in the money laundering and tax evasion case against Pune-based stud farm owner and alleged hawala operator Hasan Ali Khan, The Indian Express reports. The charges in this case were built on, among other pieces of evidence, a notarised statement of over
$8 billion illegally parked in Zurich with the Swiss bank, UBS, that the Enforcement Directorate found on Ali’s laptop. After UBS told the Indian government that the statement was fabricated, with a transaction of only $60,700 having been carried out in one of the three accounts Ali held with the bank, the government approached the Swiss government for “independent verification”. The Swiss government found the UBS version to be true, and, of course, the bottom has fallen out of the taxman’s case against Ali. How shaky the case was is evidenced by the fact that, in October last year, when the government wanted to proceed against UBS, the Attorney General advised caution and said “factual aspects need to be resolved”.
If the Ali case, where scrutiny should have been rigourous given that it was always in the public eye, ends with such a setback for the government, it could erode the credibility of the taxman’s claims. After all, in FY13 alone, of the R2,61,430 crore of raised but unrealised I-T (non-corporation) demands, R2,24,797 crore have been disputed.