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Swiss govt prepares list of Indians with suspected black money

ZURICH: In a major boost to India’s fight against black money, Switzerland has prepared a list of Indians suspected to have stashed non-taxed wealth in Swiss banks and the details are being shared with Indian government.

The names of these Indian individuals and entities have come under scanner of the Swiss authorities during an ongoing exercise to identify real beneficiary owners of funds held in various banks operating in Switzerland, a senior Swiss government official said.

“These individuals and entities are suspected to have held non-taxed money in Swiss banks through structures like trusts, domiciliary companies and other legal entities based out of countries other than India,” the official told PTI.

He refused to divulge the identity of these persons and entities, as also the quantum of funds held by them in Swiss banks, citing confidentiality clause of the bilateral information exchange treaty between two countries.

The official further said Swiss authorities were very keen to work with the new government in India and they would also provide all necessary support to the newly set up Special Investigation Team (SIT) on black money.

He, however, dismissed claims that black money stashed in Swiss banks by Indians could be trillions of dollars, as the latest Swiss National Bank data pegs the total foreign client money across 283 banks in Switzerland at $1.6 trillion.

When asked about rise in Indian exposure to Swiss banks at 2.03 billion Swiss francs (Rs 14,000 crore), he said these are the funds held by clients who have declared themselves as Indian and therefore were unlikely to be ill-gotten wealth.

While declining to be named, as he is not authorised to speak to media, the senior official further said the details are being shared with India on a ‘spontaneous’ basis and are different from the information sought earlier by the Indian authorities on the basis of ‘leaked’ or ‘stolen’ lists of certain banks, including the so-called ‘HSBC list’. — PTIBack




















Campa Cola residents urge Prez to intervene
as face off continues

MUMBAI: Mumbai civic officials on Sunday said they would not hesitate to use force against Campa Cola society residents if they are not allowed to enter the complex to cut the water and power supply lines to illegal flats.

Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) officials reached the housing complex in the plush Worli area of south Mumbai and, for the third day, were seen trying to convince the residents to let them perform their duties.

They faced strong resistance from the residents, who blocked the entrance to the compound, thus preventing officials from carrying out the Supreme Court order for demolition of the 96 illegally-constructed flats in the housing complex.

“The residents are opposing our move to enter the premises for the third straight day. We will not give them any more time. They have crossed all limits. We will now not hesitate to use force against them if they do not allow us to enter the complex,” said Deputy Municipal Commissioner Anand Waghralkar.

He said “serious talks” are going on with police officials and it was just a matter of time before police joined MCGM in its efforts to enter the premises and cut off the water, power and piped gas supply to the illegal flats.

Meanwhile, the residents said they have filed an urgent petition to President Pranab Mukherjee, requesting his intervention to stay the demolition of the illegal flats.

“We have written to the President and have humbly stated the ways in which the illegal flats can be regularised. We have also requested him to pardon our society as a lot of senior citizens staying here have nowhere else to go,” said Ankit Garg, a resident.

Asked to comment on the residents’ move to file a petition to the president, Waghralkar said MCGM will continue with its work as they have received no intimation from the President’s office to halt the eviction process.

“We have filed a complaint with police and they will now help us perform our duty. We have received absolutely no orders from the President’s office to halt the eviction process. The residents are only trying to buy more time, which we will not allow any more,” he said.

The Supreme Court had on June 3 dismissed the plea of the residents of the illegal flats against an earlier order asking them to vacate their apartments by May 31.

Following the SC order, MCGM had issued notices to the owners of the illegal units to hand over the keys to their flats so that demolition could be carried out. However, none of the owners have complied with the court order.

The MCGM deadline for vacating the flats expired on June 20 and, as part of their plan to force the occupants to hand over the apartments, civic authorities have decided to cut off essential services like water and power supply to them. — PTIBack




















Snoopgate probe likely to get a quiet burial

NEW DELHI: The UPA Government’s controversial move to order a probe into the snoopgate issue may get a quiet burial with the Union Home Ministry expected to move the Cabinet soon to abandon the plan.

A note will be presented before the Union Cabinet to scrap the December 26, 2013, order to set up a judicial commission of inquiry to probe the charges of surveillance of a young woman in 2009 in Gujarat, official sources said.

Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju has already indicated that the “politically-motivated” decision to set up the inquiry commission will be reviewed by the NDA Government.

The BJP had strongly opposed the controversial move by the Manmohan Singh Government and demanded that the probe be stopped as a parallel inquiry had been ordered into the matter by the Gujarat Government.

The UPA Government’s decision to set up the inquiry triggered a political row as the snoopgate issue was alleged to have involved Narendra Modi when he was the Gujarat Chief Minister.

It was announced that the commission, to be headed by a retired Supreme Court judge or a retired Chief Justice of a High Court, would also look into charges of snooping on Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh by the previous BJP government, when he was in the opposition as well as the leaking of the call data records of Arun Jaitley, now Union Finance Minister, in Delhi.

The Union Cabinet had taken its decision on the probe under the Commissions of Inquiry Act, which the Gujarat government, too, had used to set up a similar panel.

Reports suggest that as no retired judge was willing to head the probe commission, the UPA Government had to abandon the plan to appoint the same, days before the Lok Sabha election results were announced. — PTIBack


















Iraq crisis: Militants capture fourth town in Anbar

Baghdad: Sunni militants have seized another town in Iraq’s western Anbar province, the fourth to fall in two days, officials said on Sunday, in what is shaping up to be a major offensive in one of Iraq’s most restive regions.

The officials said the militants captured Rutba, about 150 km east of the Jordanian border, late Saturday. Residents were on Sunday negotiating with the militants to leave after an army unit on the town’s outskirts threatened to start shelling.

The latest advance has dealt another blow to Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who is fighting for his political life even as forces beyond his control are pushing the country toward a sectarian showdown.

In a reflection of the bitter divide, thousands of heavily armed Shiite militiamen — eager to take on the Sunni insurgents — marched through Iraqi cities in military-style parades yesterday on streets where many of them battled US forces a half decade ago.

The towns of Qaim, Rawah, Anah and Rutba are the first seized in predominantly Sunni Anbar province since fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant overran the city of Fallujah and parts of the provincial capital of Ramadi earlier this year.

The capture of Rawah on the Euphrates River and the nearby town of Anah appeared to be part of march toward a key dam in the city of Haditha, the destruction of which would damage the country’s electrical grid and cause major flooding.

Taking Rutba gives the insurgents control over the final stretch of a major highway to neighboring Jordan, a key artery for passengers and goods that has been infrequently used for months because of deteriorating security.

Rutba has a population of 40,000 but it has recently been home to 20,000 displaced from Fallujah and Ramadi.

Iraqi military officials said more than 2,000 troops were quickly dispatched to the site of the dam to protect it. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

The Islamic State and allied militants have carved out a large fiefdom along the Iraqi-Syrian border. Control over crossings like that one in Qaim allows them to more easily move weapons and heavy equipment. Rebels control the Syrian side of the crossing.

Al-Maliki’s Shiite-dominated government has struggled to push back against the Sunni militants, who have seized large swaths of the country’s north since taking control of the second-largest city of Mosul on June 10 as troops melted away.

The Prime Minister, who has led the country since 2006 and has not yet secured a third term after recent parliamentary elections, has increasingly turned to Iranian-backed Shiite militias and volunteers to bolster his beleaguered security forces.

The parades in Baghdad and other cities in the mainly Shiite south revealed the depth and diversity of the militias’ arsenal, from field artillery and missiles to multiple rocket launchers and heavy machine guns, adding to mounting evidence that Iraq is inching closer to a religious war between Sunni and Shiite Muslims.

Al-Maliki has come under growing pressure to reach out to disaffected Kurds and Sunnis, with many blaming his failure to promote reconciliation for the country’s worst crisis since the US military withdrew its forces nearly three years ago.

In Baghdad, about 20,000 militiamen loyal to anti-US Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, many in military fatigues, marched through the sprawling Shiite Sadr City district, which saw some of the worst fighting between Shiite militias and US soldiers before a ceasefire was reached in 2008 that helped stem the sectarian bloodshed that was pushing the country to the brink of civil war.

Similar parades took place in the southern cities of Amarah and Basra, both strongholds of al-Sadr supporters.

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the most respected voice for Iraq’s Shiite majority, who normally stays above the political fray, on Friday joined calls for al-Maliki to reach out to the Kurdish and Sunni minorities. A day earlier President Barack Obama challenged the prime minister to create a leadership representative of all Iraqis.

Al-Maliki’s State of Law bloc won the most seats in the April vote, but his hopes to retain his job have been thrown into doubt, with rivals challenging him from within the broader Shiite alliance.

The US, meanwhile, has been drawn back into the conflict. Obama announced on Thursday he was deploying up to 300 military advisers to help quell the insurgency. They join some 275 troops in and around Iraq to provide security and support for the US Embassy and other American interests.

Obama has been adamant that US troops would not be returning to combat, but has said he could approve “targeted and precise” strikes requested by Baghdad.

Iraq enjoyed several years of relative calm before violence spiked a year ago after al-Maliki moved to crush a Sunni protest movement against alleged discrimination and abuse at the hands of his government and security forces.

On Saturday four separate explosions killed 10 persons, including two policemen, and wounded 22 in Baghdad, according to police and hospital officials. And in an incident harkening back to the peak of sectarian killings in 2006 and 2007, two bodies, presumably of Sunnis, were found riddled with bullets in Baghdad’s Shiite district of Zafaraniyah, police and morgue officials said.

All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to journalists. — APBack

















FIFA World Cup
Argentina edge past Iran 1-0

Belo Horizonte (Brazil): Lionel Messi saved Argentina’s blushes with a brilliant curling stoppage time winner against unheralded Iran at the World Cup on Saturday to give the South Americans a 1-0 victory and send them into the last 16. Argentina’s fabled “Fab Four” strike force had appeared heading for a blank at the Mineirao stadium despite dominating possession to the frustration of their massed ranks of fans who came expecting a goalfest at Belo Horizonte’s Mineirao stadium.

But four-times world player of the year Messi curled the ball in during stoppage time to send them wild with only his third ever World Cup goal. “In the first half we had four or five clear chances to score. In the second half, they made life hard for us with their counter attacks. But with Messi, everything is possible,” said Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella.

The result gives Argentina six points from two games and takes them into the knockout stage. But they will need more guile and precision against better opponents. Iran, on just one point after a draw with Nigeria, will at least take heart from a fantastic performance against one of the favourites to lift the trophy.

Constantly crowded out by Iranians, Messi had until the end been unable to pull the strings and again vomited on the pitch in the first half. The Argentine captain put two free kicks wide in either half, and saw a shot go wide after a trademark run early in the second.

In a succession of wasted Argentine first half chances, Gonzalo Higuain was quickly shut down by goalkeeper Alireza Haghighi in a one-on-one in the 13th minute, Angel Di Maria shot over the bar and Sergio Aguero had a curling shot well saved. Marcos Rojo and Ezequiel Garay put headers off target.

With their increasingly hopeful supporters heavily outnumbered but cheering “Ole, ole, Iran!”, Asia’s highest-ranked team defended en masse but also enjoyed some forays forward that could have caused a sensational result. “At the end, two personalities in the game made the difference. The number one was the referee. The second was Lionel Messi,” said a bitterly disappointed coach Carlos Queiroz, claiming crucial decisions went against his side.

Queiroz was unhappy that a second half penalty claim was denied when Ashkan Dejagah was challenged by Pablo Zabaleta although the Argentina defender appeared to make contact with the ball. Sensing an upset might be possible at 0-0, Iran were bolder in the second half. Lone striker Reza Ghoochannejhad broke free in the 53rd minute but shot at Argentine goalkeeper Sergio Romero before Ashkan Dejagah saw a strong header tipped over.

Then Ghoochannejhad got behind the Argentine defence in the 86th minute but saw his shot again well saved by Romero. With the misfiring Aguero and Higuain pulled off, replacements Ezequiel Lavezzi and Rodrigo Palacio were unable to provide the missing spark — until Messi did. — ReutersBack



















Klose helps Germany salvage draw

Fortaleza (Brazil): Germany striker Miroslav Klose came off the bench to score a record-equalling 15th World Cup goal and salvage a 2-2 draw against Ghana in a pulsating Group G game on Saturday.

With his first touch two minutes after coming on, Klose poked home at the back post from a Toni Kroos corner in the 71st minute to move level with former Brazil striker Ronaldo.

He becomes only the third man after compatriot Uwe Seeler and Brazil’s Pele to score in four World Cups.

“Twenty (World Cup) matches and 15 goals is not bad at all,” Klose said. “But what’s important is that we have a good match against the United States.”

Germany, who are top of the group with four points, face the Americans in their final group match in Recife on Thursday while Ghana, with one point, play Portugal in Brasilia.

The United States (three points) take on bottom-side Portugal in their second match on Sunday.

Germany coach Joachim Loew said his players were “exhausted” from an engrossing encounter in which the Germans took the lead, trailed 2-1 before fighting back to secure a point.

“Ghana did a good job. They succeeded in closing down space, we weren’t able to get the open spaces. It was an incredible high pace and the players gave everything,” he said.

“We wanted to avoid a hard fight with these temperatures. The team showed a strong morale to come back after we were down.”
Ghana coach Kwesi Appiah described the clash as “a really good, competitive game.”

“Germany are the best in the world and playing them is always going to be difficult. We had some opportunities and unfortunately when you’re playing such a big team, if you don’t take your chances, you’re always going to face problems.”

After a cagey, goalless first half, Mario Goezte put the Germans ahead with a downward header that came off his knee before beating Fatawu Dauda in the Ghanaian goal.

But the Africans hit back three minutes later, Andre Ayew outleaping the towering figure of Per Mertesacker in the German defence to meet a Harrison Afful cross and head his side level.

Roared on by thousands of Brazilians in Fortaleza’s Castelao arena, Ghana then took the lead, their lone striker Asamoah Gyan breaching the German back line and firing a right foot shot past goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.

Loew then turned to experience, throwing on Klose and Bastian Schweinsteiger and it proved an inspired switch with Klose netting the goal that keeps the Germans in contention to reach the second round for a remarkable 16th consecutive World Cup.

The 36-year-old celebrated his goal with a sommersault, reminscent of his younger days. He landed on his backside but it hardly seemed to matter as his jubilant team mates buried him under a pile of bodies.

This was the 800th match in the tournament’s history and was a fitting tribute to an event that began in 1930.

It marked Mertesacker’s 100th German cap and Gyan’s 10th World Cup match, a Ghanaian record.

It also saw the Boateng half-brothers face each other for the second World Cup in a row. Jerome played the first half for Germany while Kevin-Prince played for Ghana. — ReutersBack














Nigeria beat Bosnia 1-0

Cuiaba (Brazil): Nigeria beat Bosnia 1-0 on Saturday to record their first World Cup finals victory since 1998 and condemn the European team to an early exit in their first appearance at the tournament.

Peter Odemwingie’s 29th-minute goal lifted the African champions to four points from two games, two less than Argentina who they meet in the final Group F match on Wednesday with top spot at stake.

“It’s been 16 years and no wins for our country so we are very excited,” Odemwingie said in a television interview.

“We needed the win. They have some fantastic players so we are happy to bounce back after what our people thought was a poor performance in the first game (a 0-0 draw with Iran).

“Victories affect people in different ways so we are looking up now and if we get into the second round anything can happen. Maybe we will be inspired as we were in the last African Nations Cup.”

Nigeria took the lead when Odemwingie fed Emmanuel Emenike on the right wing and raced into the box to receive the striker’s low return before sweeping the ball under goalkeeper Asmir Begovic.

The Bosnian bench angrily protested that Emenike had fouled captain Emir Spahic as he bundled past him into the box before making his cross.

The tournament newcomers had earlier been denied a goal after a poor offside decision against striker Edin Dzeko after he ran on to a through pass and beat goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama in the 21st minute.

Dzeko had another shot saved by Enyeama but he was well off target with chances later in the half as he fought a lonely battle with the Nigeria defence.

The more experienced Nigerians, playing in their fifth World Cup, created several chances in the first half but were let down by the final pass, poor control or wayward shooting and a couple of smart diving saves by Begovic.

The Bosnia keeper made a string of saves to keep his side in the match in a second half of end-to-end excitement and Dzeko’s shot was deflected on to the post deep into stoppage time. — Reuters




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