Global Tax 50 2014: Indian Special Investigation Team (SIT)
Former Supreme Court Justices, India
The SIT is a new entry this year
"We will not spare anyone," a source from the Special Investigation Team on black money told Indian media group New Delhi Television (NDTV). On May 1 2014, the Supreme Court of India appointed former Supreme Court Justice MB Shah as SIT chairperson. Shah's team consists of retired judges and regulators, whose mandate is to track 'black money' that country insiders believe flows out of India swifter than the Ganges. Formerly in the role was retired Justice BP Jeevan Reddy.
While campaigning, now-Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised to crack down on corporations and individuals who shift money to offshore accounts. On his first day in office on May 26, Modi tasked the SIT with making good on his campaign promises by probing the bank accounts of Indian residents abroad.
"A number of complexities would be there, but at present it is difficult for me to say which complexities I would face. But I will try to solve them as early as possible," said Shah. In October 2014 the team publicly named individuals and entities they believed to have illegally stashed money in Luxembourg and Germany after conducting preliminary investigations. The investigations received an abundance of media attention as many Indians believe it is a crucial step in fighting corruption. However the case raised questions over whether India could comply with confidentiality clauses in exchange of information agreements.
Some Indian media have questioned the group's commitment to tracking black money if it means implicating some of India's most powerful businesses.
"I have never bothered about personalities and nobody has dared to touch me. It is as good as that. Do not worry about it," said Shah in an interview earlier this year.
The Supreme Court has also asked the central government to complete investigations into the Swiss bank accounts of 627 Indian citizens by March of next year.
Former Justice Arijit Pasayat serves as vice-chairman of the team. The bench includes Chief Justice HL Dattu, Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai and Justice Madan B Lokur. The remaining 11 members include an Intelligence Bureau Director, Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation and Director General Narcotics Control Bureau, comprising a very intimidating collective CV.
"The Union of India and where needed, the state governments, will facilitate the conduct of the investigations in their fullest measure by the Special Investigation Team and functioning, by extending all the necessary financial, material, legal, diplomatic and intelligence resources, whether such investigations or portions of such investigations occur inside the country or abroad," stated the team in June.
Modi has insisted his new government will not protect the interests of big companies over the interests of the people. The effort of the SIT on black money is a significant step for the country, though it appears the Indian people may have to wait until 2015 to see returns on their investment.
The Global Tax 50 2014
Gold tier (ranked in order of influence)
Silver tier (in alphabetic order)
Joaquín Almunia • Apple • Justice Patrick Boyle • CTPA • Joe Hockey • IMF • Arun Jaitley • Marius Kohl • Tizhong Liao • Kosie Louw • Pierre Moscovici • Michael Noonan • Wolfgang Schäuble • Algirdas Šemeta • Robert Stack
Bronze tier (in alphabetic order)
Shinzo Abe • Alberto Arenas • Piet Battiau • Monica Bhatia • Bitcoin • Bono • Warren Buffett • ECJ Translators • Eurodad • Hungarian protestors • Indian Special Investigation Team (SIT) • Chris Jordan • Armando Lara Yaffar • McKesson • Patrick Odier • OECD printing facilities • Pier Carlo Padoan • Mariano Rajoy • Najib Razak • Alex Salmond • Skandia • Tax Justice Network • Edward Troup • Margrethe Vestager • Heinz Zourek