Analysis

Eight Billion Dollar Question!

Under orders of the Supreme Court (SC) the government is compelled to display action against Hassan Ali. That is why he was arrested and interrogated one day before it had to report progress on the probe to SC. It is laughable that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) should conduct searches of Ali’s residences after three years of publicity on the case that provided the suspect all the time required to bury incriminating evidence. But the government’s reluctance to pursue the investigation sincerely is exposed by a more sinister aspect.

 In January 2007 raids by the income-tax department revealed Ali had USD 8 billion deposited in just one account in the UBS AG bank, Zurich. When the Swiss authorities demanded relevant documents to furnish further information the government provided forged documents. The Swiss authorities did not assert that the account did not exist. It demanded authentic documents. These were not provided. Under the fiction that Hassan Ali was a mere tax evader and not indulging in any criminal activity the government failed to pursue the case with Swiss authorities. 

Quite recently Finance Minister Mukherjee suddenly disclosed that the 8 billion deposits had been withdrawn from the Swiss account and the government had no knowledge where the money was stashed. Now the latest information being leaked to sections of the media by ED suggests that the documents pertaining to the 8 billion deposits were not authentic in the first place and therefore the account never existed! Later in court Hassan Ali challenged the ED to produce the documents. The court critisized ED for being unprepared. Whatr masterful simplicity! Three years have elapsed, the money has been withdrawn from the Swiss account, and the original documents most probably destroyed. So, where is the account? Did it ever exist? Now theories from ED will most likely emerge to explain why Ali should have manufactured forged documents that incriminated him and kept these in his possession. 

Meanwhile the SC is coming down heavily on the government seeking a probe into Ali’s possible links with terror, gun running and crime. The government which ignored similar demands from the media all this while will now of course comply readily with the court’s directive. As long as the 8 billion deposits are buried so deep as to be non-existent the involvement of political bigwigs with Ali’s operations may never surface. How much more convenient it is to link Ali with only Adnan Kashogi!  
   

03-Aug-2011

More by :  Dr. Rajinder Puri

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