Black money: I-T dept conducts survey at HSBC bank in Mumbai

The Income Tax department has conducted a "survey" operation at the head office of HSBC bank here in connection with the black money probe against it and certain Indians who held accounts in its Switzerland branch.

Sources said sleuths drawn from the investigation and assessment wings of the department visited the bank's office in Fort area in Mumbai and, starting yesterday, made "inquiries" related to their probe against the global banking giant and its operations.

They said the bank has been issued notices in this regard earlier and the latest action was part of its "survey" operation where tax officials visit the business premises of an entity under probe. Contacted for the bank's response, an HSBC India spokesperson told PTI: "We have cooperated continuously with the Indian authorities and continue to do so."

Sources said that I-T officials have seized some documents related to the bank's Indian operations during the operation which ended today even as summons were issued by it to some top executives of its Indian branch.

The latest I-T action comes at a time when the tax department is expected to file a complaint against HSBC Bank, Geneva, for allegedly "abetting" tax evasion in India by way of unauthorisedly operating accounts of its citizens in its overseas branch.

The bank, in its annual report published today, had also said that Indian tax authorities had issued summons and request for information to "an HSBC company in India".

The probe in the HSBC-Geneva cases, involving 628 entities, recently gathered momentum as a number of cases under the category are getting time-barred by the end of this financial year, meaning they cannot be acted against after the said time period.

The Special Investigation Team (SIT) on black money has also widened its probe into these cases after revelations in this regard were made recently by ICIJ -- a global collective of journalists.

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