This Article is From Feb 09, 2015

How Main Whistle-Blower Herve Falciani Will Help India in Black Money Inquiry

Whistle-Blower Herve Falciani Speaks to NDTV.


As India reacted to the disclosure that there are nearly 1,700 Indians on a list of those who held accounts in 2007 at HSBC's Geneva branch, the whistleblower who unloaded the trove of data told NDTV that he has formally joined the Indian government's investigation to recover untaxed or black money from foreign accounts.

Herve Falciani, 43, said that his partnership with India is likely to result in new cases against Indians who have so far not been investigated for violating tax laws by stashing money abroad. New Delhi has asked him to share specific information about the Indians on the infamous "HSBC list."

In 2008, Mr Falciani leaked the details of citizens from different countries who held accounts at HSBC, where he was then an employee. France passed on the details of more than 600 Indians to Delhi. Today, the Indian Express has reported that the HSBC list included 1,200 names with a cumulative bank balance of about 25,000 crores - some of these could be legitimate accounts, however.

In November, Mr Falciani told NDTV that India had accessed only "one per cent of the data" that was relevant to Delhi from the HSBC list. The government reacted to that revelation by approaching Mr Falciani through NDTV to seek his assistance. Representatives from India have since met him in France.

Mr Falciani says he would like to focus on mining his data to establish the origin of accounts that now show up empty. Similarly, he says he can help the government cross-check people who say they are wrongly listed as account-holders. And he says he could assist in tracing the people behind large trusts and shell companies who have banked at HSBC.

The issue of black money is a politically explosive one in India, not least because it was placed centrestage in last year's election campaign by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Supreme Court has been monitoring the inquiry by the earlier government and the new one.   

For his work, Mr Falciani has been promised a reward by India based on the amount of untaxed money that he helps recover. Mr Falciani said he is not interested in compensation but in fighting corruption and exposing the cover offered by banks to illicit financial activity by the wealthy.