Kejriwal says Ambanis & others have funds abroad, has little proof

In his latest round of allegations, anti-corruption activist-turned politician Arvind Kejriwal on Friday targeted multinational bank HSBC, accusing it of indulging in money-laundering and claimed Ambani brothers, Naresh Goyal and Congress MP Annu Tandon had parked their black money in its Geneva branch, a charge denied by all concerned.

Addressing a press conference, Kejriwal and lawyer Prashant Bhushan alleged that around R6,000 crore black money was lying in 700 accounts of the bank's Geneva branch. They claimed that people who had deposited "small amounts of money" in the bank were raided but "big fish" like Mukesh and Anil Ambani, Naresh Goyal (Jet Airways), Tandon and Burmans (Anand, Pradeep and Ratan) of Dabur were "let off" at the government's behest.

The activists claimed the Ambani brothers had R100 crore each and Reliance Group's Motech Software R2,100 crore, late Sandeep and Annu Tandon R125 crore each, Naresh Goyal R80 crore and Dabur's Burman brothers R25 crore.

He claimed these were some of the people in the list of around 700 having accounts in HSBC as of 2006.

Denying the allegations, HSBC said: "HSBC Bank in India notes certain allegations made today. The Bank cannot comment on the specific details of the allegations that have been made, which relate to issues in the past. HSBC takes compliance with the law, wherever it operates, very seriously. With a new senior global leadership team and a new strategy in place since last year, HSBC continues to take concrete steps to strengthen compliance, risk management and culture. India is a key strategic market for HSBC. The group remains committed to investing in and growing its operations in the country."

Rejecting the charges, a Burman family spokesperson said: "We wish to state that these accounts were opened by the Burman family members when they were NRIs, and were legally allowed to open such accounts. The amount being referred to in the media, pertaining to these accounts, has been officially remitted from India through official banking channels and as per applicable Fema guidelines. These amounts have been sent out of the declared and tax assessed incomes received in India. The complete details regarding the remittances have been voluntarily, and as per law, filed with the income tax department, and appropriate taxes paid as applicable. Therefore it is unfortunate that every person having a foreign bank account is being painted with the same brush. At Dabur, we are committed to the highest standards of corporate governance, and encourage ethical behaviour at all levels. Moral and ethical standards are cornerstones of our group's value system and we nurture these at all times."

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