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HSBC under probe for abetting tax evasion


Indian tax department had issued a warning notice to global banking massive HSBC to prosecute its Swiss and Dubai offices for allegedly abetting tax avoidance by four Indians and their families.

The tax authorities continuing the investigation on UK-based HSBC which was disclosed on Monday, regarding alleged abetment of tax evasion through its Geneva branch. HSBC said that it is cooperating with the authorities and hoped a ‘’significant’’ financial impact as a result of these investigations.

According to tax authorities, they have sufficient evidence against HSBC involvement in illegal activities. HSBC  had been scanned under Reserve Bank of India also which revealed the dissonance in the banking operations, including allowing a decoy customer to open a  suspicious account in September 2014.

HSBC was examined by Indian tax authorities after the leaked list of hundreds of Indian clients of its Geneva branch from French and German.

This will help Indian government to fight against black money which is allegedly stashed in Switzerland, there have been apprehensions that the illegal money has been shifted to some other place like Dubai in recent years. Similar lists made in other countries also, prompting probe.

HSBC said that it had first issued its summons in February 2015 from tax authorities while fresh notices were issued in August and then in November during the announcement of annual results, without disclosing the names of Indians who were involved in the tax evasion through its Swiss and Dubai units.

The bank on Monday reported a revenue of $1.84 billion in 2015, up from $1.74 in 2014 from Indian operations. However, it has a profit of $606 from India operations, including from global banking and market business. For India, its customer account had the balance of $11.8 billion at the end of 2015, up from $11.7 billion in 2014.

Meanwhile, the RBI report alleges that HSBC could have possibly optimized the violation of Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) by allowing customers to bank with offshore private banking locations.

A sample check of HSBC’s outward remittances has found that bank has breached the limits under the Liberalised Remittance Scheme, which allow Indians to open accounts abroad, reported RBI. It also reported on alleged deficiencies in KYC procedures.

The UK-based bank has been under the scanner of financial sector regulators in many countries. In December 2012, the US authorities had slapped a fine of $1.9 billion on the lender for breaking US anti-money laundering rules. (Inputs from agencies)

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Pentavalent vaccine: Doctors raise red flag

In spite of the data presented in this paper from a large cohort, the authors point out that the evidence is merely circumstantial and not conclusive

the new Hepatitis B vaccine for adults is called Heplisav-B.
India's PV to be reexamined because of its harmful effects. .
  • Pentavalent vaccine was introduced in India six years ago
  • It is since then have been a cause of many deaths
  • Doctors want it to be reexamined before continuing its use

Pentavalent vaccine (PV), that was introduced by India a little over six years ago, doubled the deaths of children soon after vaccination compared to the DPT (Diphtheria-Pertussis-Tetanus) vaccine, according to a new study that calls for a “rigorous review of the deaths following vaccination with PV”.

Health officials have launched a campaign targeting nearly 24 million people with a one-fifth dose of the vaccine. Wikimedia Commons
PV has been cause of many deaths in past years. Wikimedia Commons

Government records show that there were 10,612 deaths following vaccination (both PV and DPT) in the last 10 years. There was a huge increase in these numbers in 2017, which the Health Ministry has promised to study. “The present analysis could be a starting point in the quest to reduce the numbers of such deaths,” authors of the new study say.

The study by Dr Jacob Puliyel, Head of Pediatrics at St Stephens Hospital, and Dr V. Sreenivas, Professor of Biostatistics at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), both in New Delhi, is published in the peer-reviewed Medical Journal of Dr D.Y. Patil University.

PV is a combination of the DPT vaccine and two more vaccines against Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) and hepatitis B. Starting December 2011, PV was introduced into India’s immunisation programme to replace DPT vaccine in a staged manner with a view to adding protection against Hib and Hepatitis B without increasing the number of injections given to infants.

Doctors have raised concerns over these vaccines. Wikimedia Commons
Doctors have raised concerns over these vaccines. Wikimedia Commons

But sporadic reports of unexplained deaths following immunisation with PV had been a matter of concern. Puliyel, Sreenivas and their colleagues undertook the study to find out if these deaths were merely coincidental or vaccine-induced.

The authors obtained data of all deaths reported from April 2012 to May 2016 under the Right to Information Act. Data on deaths within 72 hours of administering DPT and PV from different states were used.

For their study, the authors assumed that all deaths within 72 hours of receiving DPT are natural deaths. Using this figure as the baseline, they presumed that any increase in the number of deaths above this baseline among children receiving PV must be caused by this vaccine.

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According to their analysis of the data provided by the government, there were 237 deaths within 72 hours of administering the Pentavalent vaccine — twice the death rate among infants who received DPT vaccine.

Extrapolating the data, the authors have estimated that vaccination of 26 million children each year in India would result in 122 additional deaths within 72 hours, due to the switch from DPT to PV.

“There is likely to be 7,020 to 8,190 deaths from PV each year if data from states with the better reporting, namely Manipur and Chandigarh, are projected nationwide,” their report says.

It is important to make sure that these vaccines are reexamined peroperly. VOA

The authors note that while the study looks at the short-term increase in deaths (within three days of vaccination) it does not calculate the potential benefits of PV on infant mortality, for example by protection against lethal diseases like Haemophilus influenza.

In spite of the data presented in this paper from a large cohort, the authors point out that the evidence is merely circumstantial and not conclusive. “These findings of differential death rates between DPT and PV do call for further rigorous prospective population-based investigations,” the study concludes. IANS