Paris: Indian investigators have met in France with whistle-blower Herve Falciani, responsible for the world's biggest-ever breach of banking secrecy. In 2008, Mr Falciani was an employee of HSBC in Geneva when he leaked data related to more than 100,000 bank accounts, which included some held by Indians.
Mr Falciani told NDTV today that he has proposed what he described as "a larger overhaul" of India's black money investigation. "Looking for names only leads to 'small fish'," he said, "names should be the end point not the starting point of any investigation."
He said he can do for India what he has done for other countries like France and Belgium - find "new ways of understanding offshore banking because when we deal with corruption, when we deal with black money it's not only about a local problem, it's wider than that." His assistance has led to other countries indicting HSBC's Swiss arm in Geneva for aiding tax evasion and money laundering by offering ways to wealthy clients to hide assets.
Mr Falciani, 42, was contacted by Indian officials last month for help after he appeared on NDTV and claimed that Delhi had access to "less than 1%" of data that could help it track down how money was being hidden by Indians in foreign banks. In 2011, France shared with India a list of over 600 Indian accounts that allegedly held illicit accounts at HSBC's Private arm in its Geneva branch.
NDTV's sources say India will assess Mr. Falciani's offer and if approved, will send him a proposal.
The Supreme Court is monitoring the government's attempts to recover black money and has set up a special team of former bureaucrats and judges to identify and penalize black money holders. The committee has been given till March 31 to complete its enquiry.
Mr Falciani was indicted for industrial espionage by Switzerland last week. He said he had "no choice" but to break banking secrecy laws to report "misconduct". (Falciani Indicted for Data Theft by Switzerland)