Industrialist Yash Birla and son-in-law of late realty and liquor baron Ponty Chadha are among seven Indians with Swiss bank accounts whose names have been made public in Switzerland’s official gazette with regard to ongoing tax probes against them in India.
Two Mumbai-based individuals named in the famous City Limousines scam, a Delhi-based businesswoman Ritika Sharma and two others – Sneh Lata Sawhney and Sangita Sawhney– are the other Indians whose names have been made public.
The names of these seven "Indian nationals" have been published in Switzerland’s Federal Gazette with regard to details sought about them by the Indian authorities.
Among these, some details have already been shared by the Swiss Federal Tax Administration (FTA) with India, including about Birla and Sharma of Blessings Apparel, as per the gazette notifications.
In case of Sayed Mohamed Masood, being probed for a major ponzi scheme run from Mumbai through City Limousines, some details were shared by Swiss authorities in the past. His accounts were also frozen a few years ago following a request from the Enforcement Directorate.
Fresh details about him and about Chaud Kauser Mohamed Masood have been sought by the Indian authorities, as per the notifications published in Switzerland’s official gazette.
While asking the named persons to appeal within 30 days, the notifications mention the names and date of birth of all the seven, including Gurjit Singh Kochar, who is married into the Chadha family and is said to be outside India now.
The notifications for Birla and Sharma also mention their Mumbai and Delhi addresses, respectively.
Welcoming the Swiss government’s move, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said this should serve as a "sufficient indicator" to those with unaccounted wealth abroad about the action to follow.
Speaking to reporters in Ahmedabad, he said the era of tax haven has come to an end and it’s no longer safe to keep the assets abroad illegally.
The Yash Birla group later said in an emailed statement that he had "no individual bank account in his name or under his control" and this position has already been communicated to the Indian tax authorities.
Repeated calls to Sharma did not elicit any response, while a family representative declined to comment on the notification issued about Kochar, who is believed to be outside India. He is facing probe by the Income Tax Department and other agencies for quite some time.
No contact details were available for comments from Sawhneys. Despite repeated attempts Masoods could not be contacted.
The names being made public in this manner could include some big names, as those whose names have been published in the latest gazette includes Francisco Jose Ortiz von Bismarck.
As per German media reports, he is a descendant of the first Chancellor of German empire Otto von Bismarck.