Golden Passports From Cyprus ‘Violate’ Constitution’s Article 9
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Fromer government secretary EAS Sarma has reminded the Centre of a recent investigation by The Indian Express into a scandal involving several Indian citizens who obtained “Golden Passports” from the Cyprus government around 2017-18 by making investment under a special scheme offered by that country.
Mentioning Article 9 of the Constitution, which “prohibits Indian citizens from obtaining overseas citizenship”, Sarma has demanded that such people be immediately prosecuted.
In a letter addressed to home secretary AK Bhalla, Sarma wrote: “The investment made by many of them apparently involved illicit wealth accumulated from their businesses in India, taking advantage of the existing regulatory loopholes and inadequate regulatory oversight.”
According to the report, there are, “at least, 66 persons of Indian origin involved in domestic business operations who obtained Golden Passports from Cyprus. Many among them may be carrying valid Indian passports as evident from the following portion of that news report.”
“according to the last available record in January 2018, the wait for a bank account continued. In May 2018, the Oswals were issued their Cypriot passports. In March 2019, Radhika and Pankaj Oswal identified themselves with their Indian passport numbers and instructed ConnectedSky “to proceed with the strike off” of Cyprol Limited”.” Sarma quoted from the report in the letter.
Sarma had earlier too “written to the Union finance minister and others concerned that the promoters of several Indian business groups had set up overseas shell companies in which they stashed their illicitly earned wealth, creating a shadow economy, not only to evade taxes but also to externally manipulate the domestic stock market to plunder domestic investors’ hard-earned investment and gain control over India’s precious natural resources, infrastructure facilities and so on”.
According to Countercurrents.org, Sarma alleged that the concerned authorities “have deliberately allowed regulatory loopholes to continue, making it possible to carry on their clandestine operations. It is possible that some such corporate groups are also anonymously funding the political parties for quid pro quos through the egregious Electoral Bond scheme”.
Sarma wrote that the investigating agencies, especially the Enforcement Directorate and the CBI, should approach the Cyprus government and “secure access to the names of Indian citizens and persons of Indian origin who have made investment in get Golden Passports”.
The investigative agencies should also “obtain the details of their shell companies and the funds stashed in them, the financial transactions in which they are involved that would have resulted in tax evasion, manipulation of the Indian stock market and illegal acquisition of assets in India, and initiate appropriate action under the relevant laws”, he further wrote.
“In addition, Article 9 of the Constitution prohibits Indian citizens from obtaining overseas citizenship: “No person shall be a citizen of India by virtue of Article 5 or be deemed to be a citizen of India by virtue of Article 6 or Article 8 if he has voluntarily acquired the citizenship of any foreign State.”
Requesting the government to act against just passport holders, Sarma wrote: “Under Article 9 and the other relevant citizenship laws, I request the home ministry to identify Indian passport holders and their associates involved in this scandal and initiate prosecution proceedings against them.”
He also asked for an investigation into whether “some individuals in India and regulatory authorities connived with them in this”.
“I hope that the home ministry coordinates action with the other ministries and agencies to bring the culprits to book without delay,” he wrote.
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