South Asia News
Man accused of being India's biggest tax evader arrested
Mar 8, 2011, 8:04 GMT
New Delhi - Authorities in India arrested a man accused of being the country's biggest tax evader by allegedly stashing more than 8 billion dollars illegally in Swiss banks, officials said Tuesday.
Hasan Ali Khan, a stud-farm owner, was arrested on charges of money laundering Monday night by the Enforcement Directorate, which he was reportedly interrogated him for about six hours at its Mumbai office.
Officials had questioned Khan about financial dealings with international arms dealers and smugglers and conducted countrywide raids at Khan's home and offices in five Indian cities.
On Tuesday morning, Khan complained of feeling unwell and was taken to the Jamshetjee Jejeebhoy Hospital, where he told reporters he held no Swiss bank accounts and was being framed.
'I am a victim of political conspiracy,' Khan said. 'I am innocent.'
After treatment, Khan was to be produced at a local court where a remand would be sought for further questioning, officials said.
Khan's arrest came a day ahead of a deadline the Supreme Court set for the government to report on how it proposed to tackle illicit outflows of money, often called 'black money' in India.
The Supreme Court last week excoriated the Indian government for not acting against those illegally funnelling wealth overseas. The court had termed the illegal outflows a 'theft' of national funds and a 'mind-boggling crime.'
'What the hell is going on in this country?' Justice B Sudershan Reddy said, when questioning officials about why Khan and other offenders were not being taken into custody.
During the March 1 hearing, the Supreme Court asked the government to consider invoking anti-terrorism and stringent penal charges against Khan for his potential connections with arms dealers and people linked with terrorist activities, the NDTV network reported.
A recent report by the US-based research and advocacy organization Global Financial Integrity said India has lost about 462 billion dollars to illicit financial flows, much of it through corruption and tax evasion, since its independence in 1947.
India's underground economy was estimated to be worth about 640 billion dollars at the end of 2008 and 72 per cent of that money was held abroad, the report said.
There were no reliable estimates of the money stashed either inside or outside India, but the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party estimated it ranged from 500 billion to 1.4 trillion dollars.
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