New Delhi: White Paper will be issued on blackmoney, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee announced in the Lok Sabha today while disclosing that government has received 36,000 'pieces' of information with regard to Indian account holders in banks abroad.

However, Mukherjee rejected Opposition demand for making public the information received, saying it would violate the agreement with foreign countries and also "dry up our source of information".

He was replying to a spirited debate on Adjournment Motion on blackmoney moved by BJP leader LK Advani which was later defeated by voice vote. Samajwadi Party staged a walkout.

Dismissing the Opposition charge of "inaction" or "lagging behind", he said, the government was pursuing the information regarding the illegal accounts abroad rather than publicizing details as the account holders could even withdraw money.

"I have got 36,000 pieces of information. If I publish it some country will say you violated the agreement...we cannot share it. If we publish the names then they will withdraw the money," he said.

"Should I publicise or go and seize it? How is intelligence collected? There is an element of surprise," he said.

The Minister made it clear that names of Members of Parliament (MPs) did not figure in the information he had received from abroad.

He said revised tax treaty with Switzerland has come into force and would enable India to procure banking details with effect from April 1, 2011.

"I have to ascertain (details)," Mukherjee said, adding "some of them may be genuine account holders who have got the permission of RBI. They may be investors."

The Indian investors have expanded their operations abroad and publishing names could harm their businesses, he said.
"Shall I publish names, give names?.. We will get publicity," the Finance Minister said, adding "it will have an impact on industry."

During his 45-minute reply, he took on the Opposition, particularly Advani, for speculating on the size of blackmoney which according to different estimates range from USD 500 billion to USD 1,900 billion.

"I will bring White Paper. I will bring all information," he said, adding three economic think-tanks - NIPFP, NIFM and NCAER - have been mandated to make independent and dependable assessments of the quantum of blackmoney in the country.

Mukherjee said there is no conflict of interest between the objective of the Opposition and the government. "Why can't we work together. I will not protect any blackmoney holder, my party will not protect any blackmoney holder," he said.

He slammed the Opposition for pressing for Adjournment Motion on the issue and disrupting Parliament for the same.

"What urgency has it got? This issue has been there since 1948," he said, attacking the Opposition for linking the issue with the adjournment motion and not allowing the House to function.

Earlier, the Opposition attacked the government alleging it was not doing enough to bring back the unaccounted funds stashed abroad, while several other countries had been able to do so. They also wanted the government to disclose the names of those account holders information regarding whom had been received.

Blackmoney issue rocks Parliament

The issue of blackmoney dominated in Lok Sabha on Wednesday with the Opposition asking the government to bring back an estimated Rs 25 lakh crore stashed away illegally in foreign banks and reveal identity of depositors.

Moving an adjournment motion on the issue, the first in the current Lok Sabha, BJP veteran L K Advani also wanted a White Paper on the magnitude of the black money menace and steps taken by the government to tackle it.

"Tell the world that we are willing to place all the cards on the table. We have nothing to hide," Advani told Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee who were present in the House.

"Reveal the names you have. It will be a humiliation if we don't get to know them from our Prime Minister or our Finance Minister and come to know from the Wikileaks as (its owner) Julius Assange has said he has the names and would reveal them in 2012," Advani said.

The Chairman of the BJP Parliamentary Party said his party agreed with the estimate of an international think-tank -- Global Financial Integrity -- that Rs 25 lakh crore has been illegally stashed away abroad by Indians.

The adjournment motion was on the situation arising out of money deposited illegally in foreign banks and action being taken against the guilty persons. Following an agreement between the government and the BJP, the motion did not speak of "government failure".

The BJP leader, however, insisted that the admission of the motion was itself reflective of government's failure on the issue "no matter even if the wording of the motion has undergone a change. Adjournment motion is a failure of the government and your (Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar) acceptance only testifies my view that it the government's failure".

Maintaining that blackmoney stashed abroad was far more than the Rs 1.76 lakh crore involved in the biggest scam (2G spectrum allocation) of independent India, Advani alleged that blackmoney generation had grown manifold since the country undertook liberalisation in 1991 when Singh was the Finance Minister.

He asked why the government was not making public the "16 to 18 names" of people who had kept unaccounted money in banks in Liechtenstein it had received from foreign governments. "Why protect them?"

Asserting that the Swiss government was willing to reveal such names to countries which wanted to know them, he wanted to know why the government was dragging its feet on the matter.

He said France had 600-700 names of Indians who had stashed ill-gotten wealth abroad. "Do not protect them. If any name belongs to us, please reveal that too."

The senior BJP leader also took the government to task for delaying the ratification of a 2003 UN Convention on corruption and dirty money by eight years. "Government has not been proactive in this matter, even the Supreme Court has pointed this out."

Asking the government to declare December 9 as 'Anti- Corruption Day', he said all BJP MPs had given voluntary declarations to the Rajya Sabha Chairman and the Lok Sabha Speaker declaring that they had no illegal foreign accounts.

Advani asked the government to enact a law to make it mandatory for all candidates, MPs and MLAs to state that they did not have any illegal money stashed away in foreign banks.

(Agencies)