Mumbai/New Delhi: Reliance Industries and Jet Airways, two of India’s biggest companies, denied allegations from an anti-corruption activist who accused executives of holding undeclared Swiss bank accounts.
Arvind Kejriwal from India Against Corruption on Friday said Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani and his brother Anil held the accounts in a branch of HSBC in Geneva.
He also accused Naresh Goyal, the chairman of Jet Airways of holding “black money” accounts, a term widely used in India to describe funds meant to avoid taxes.
Kejriwal and his IAG group have already gained publicity after accusing the ruling Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law of improper deals with property developer DLF . All involved have denied the allegations.
“Neither Reliance Industries Limited nor Mr. Mukesh Ambani have or had any illegitimate accounts anywhere in the world,” the energy conglomerate said on Friday in response to Kejriwal’s latest claim.
Reliance added the company deals 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 company said.
A spokesman for Anil Ambani, who is the chairman of Reliance Capital and Reliance Infrastructure, said in an email: “Mr Anil D. Ambani had no bank accounts with HSBC in Geneva.”
Jet Airways, India’s biggest airline, called Kejriwal’s accusation against its chairman “entirely false.”
Kejriwal also accused three people affiliated with personal care and food products maker Dabur India who he did not identify, of holding such accounts. The company declined to comment.
Earlier yestrerday, Kejriwal on Friday alleged that brothers Mukhesh and Anil Ambani and Congress MP Annu Tandon, among others, have millions of rupees deposited in banks in Switzerland.
He said this was based on a list of 10 account holders in HSBC bank in Geneva that was passed on to him by a senior Congress leader that was later cross-checked by a team of his India Against Corruption (IAC) organisation.
“In July 2011, the Indian Government received a list of roughly 700 people having bank accounts in HSBC, Geneva. The list contains bank balances of these people in 2006. These names are also part of the list,” said Kejriwal during a press conference here.
The list named the Ambani brothers as having Rs.100 crore each, Congress Unnao MP Tandon of having Rs.125 crore, including another Rs.125 crore in name of her deceased husband Sandeep Tandon and Jet Airways chairman Naresh Kumar Goyal of having Rs800 million.
Three brothers who own Dabur have Rs.25 crores in Swiss banks, while Yashovardhan Birla and Kokila Dhirubhai Ambani have accounts with zero balance, Kejriwal alleged in the conference, also adressed by his associate Prashant Bhushan.
“Our sources told us Mukhesh Ambani had come to the finance ministry when the list of 700 Swiss account holders were provided to India. He told the finance ministry ‘we are prepared to pay the tax to buy peace and no raids should be conducted’,” said Kejriwal.
According to Kejriwal, the present CBI director once said more than Rs25 trillion of ill-gotten Indian money was stashed abroad while the Indian government said that an amount of Rs6,000 crore is deposited in Swiss banks.
He said even as black money was a big threat to India’s economic sovereignty, the union government was trying to shield its perpetrators. “Indian government seems to be more interested in helping the guilty rather than punishing them.”
Kejriwal said the then finance minister Pranab Mukherjee had even planned an amnesty for all the 700 Swiss account holders. He also demanded strict action against HSBC bank for encouraging kidnapping, corruption and terrorism in the country.
“Like America, we should enact a law that makes it mandatory for foreign banks operating in the country to furnish a list of all account holders to the income tax department,” he said, asking the thousands of HSBC bank employees to quit their jobs
Meanwhile, Tandon slammed Kejriwal for what she termed “frivolous and malicious” allegation of her stashing away Rs.125 crore in a Swiss bank.
Soon after Kejriwal made the allegation at a press conference here, Tandon told reporters that the allegation levelled by the IAC against her was “completely baseless.”
“It is a completely baseless and malicious allegation. I completely deny any corruption,” she said.
“My husband is dead. I have nothing more to say on these allegations,” Tandon said, in response to IAC naming him as one of those 700 Indians who had illegal money in Swiss bank accounts.