Germany's intelligence agency, BND, in the course of probing a domestic tax evasion case procured a disk containing the names of secret account holders of the LTG Bank located in a prominent West European tax haven, Liechtenstein. The strict banking secrecy laws of Liechtenstein render such information normally inaccessible. German investigators succeeded in buying this disk from an LTG Bank employee after making a heavy payment. To uncover global corruption the German government has offered other nations its information to help them uncover their own corruption cases. The US, UK, Canada, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Ireland have already taken advantage of the German offer in order to pursue corruption cases in their respective countries.
According to The Times of India this list of secret account holders includes the names of hundreds of Indians who have illegally deposited their money in the bank. The newspaper quoted the head of Transparency International, former Naval Chief Admiral RH Tahiliani, who complained that the Indian government was not seizing this opportunity to recover money earned from corruption and deposited abroad. 'This money belongs to the people of India,' he told the newspaper. It may be mentioned that Transparency International is an internationally reputed body that has collaborated with Servants of India Society.
The government's tardiness to take advantage of the German offer is inexplicable. It is also very unfair. It might be recalled that in the Bofors investigation while the CBI was hounding Mr Ottavio Quattrocchi it sent letters rogatory, among other tax havens, to Liechtenstein. The CBI was trying to locate the bank accounts into which Mr Quattrocchi was suspected to have transferred slush funds from Swiss banks after the Bofors case erupted. Indeed, even Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyer, while discussing the Bofors case in Parliament, claimed: 'We reached the stage where we have been able to identify Mr Quattrocchi as a man who has received some of the money.'
Nevertheless, despite many years no case against Mr Quattrocchi has been made. He has therefore justifiably claimed that he is being unduly harassed by the government and by media. With news of the fresh German offer, inevitably public attention will be redrawn to him. That could create possibly much unhealthy speculation. It becomes incumbent for the UPA government therefore to promptly accept the German offer. It must release all the names of the LTG Bank secret account holders. To avoid another round of possibly unwarranted harassment of Mr Quattrocchi, that is the least the government can do.