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HSBC under probe for abetting tax evasion

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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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Diesel Exhaust Converted Into Ink by Indian Innovators To Battle Air Pollution

Supervised by young engineers, workers at the start-up company Chakr Innovation in New Delhi cut and weld sheets of metal to make devices that will capture black plumes of smoke from diesel generators and convert it into ink.

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representational image. VOA

Supervised by young engineers, workers at the start-up company Chakr Innovation in New Delhi cut and weld sheets of metal to make devices that will capture black plumes of smoke from diesel generators and convert it into ink.

In a cabin, young engineers pore over drawings and hunch over computers as they explore more applications of the technology that they hope will aid progress in cleaning up the Indian capital’s toxic air – among the world’s dirtiest.

While the millions of cars that ply Delhi’s streets are usually blamed for the city’s deadly air pollution, another big culprit is the massive diesel generators used by industries and buildings to light up homes and offices during outages when power from the grid switches off – a frequent occurrence in summer. Installed in backyards and basements, they stay away from the public eye.

“Although vehicular emissions are the show stoppers, they are the ones which get the media attention, the silent polluters are the diesel generators,” says Arpit Dhupar, one of the three engineers who co-founded the start up.

The idea that this polluting smoke needs attention struck Dhupar three years ago as he sipped a glass of sugarcane juice at a roadside vendor and saw a wall blackened with the fumes of a diesel generator he was using.

It jolted him into joining with two others who co-founded the start-up to find a solution. Dhupar had experienced first hand the deadly impact of this pollution as he developed respiratory problems growing up in Delhi.

An Indian girls holds a banner during a protest against air pollution in New Delhi, India, Nov. 6, 2016.
An Indian girls holds a banner during a protest against air pollution in New Delhi, India, Nov. 6, 2016.

A new business

As the city’s dirty air becomes a serious health hazard for many citizens, it has turned into both a calling and a business opportunity for entrepreneurs looking at ways to improve air quality.

According to estimates, vehicles contribute 22 percent of the deadly PM 2.5 emissions in Delhi, while the share of diesel generators is about 15 percent. These emissions settle deep into the lungs, causing a host of respiratory problems.

After over two years of research and development, Chakr has begun selling devices to tap the diesel exhaust. They have been installed in 50 places, include public sector and private companies.

The technology involves cooling the exhaust in a “heat exchanger” where the tiny soot particles come together. These are then funneled into another chamber that captures 70 to 90 percent of the particulate matter. The carbon is isolated and converted into ink.

Among their first clients was one of the city’s top law firms, Jyoti Sagar Associates, which is housed in a building in Delhi’s business hub Gurgaon.

Making a contribution to minimizing the carbon footprint is a subject that is close to Sagar’s heart – his 32-year-old daughter has long suffered from the harmful effects of Delhi’s toxic air.

Motorists drive surrounded by smog, in New Delhi, India, Nov. 8, 2017.
Motorists drive surrounded by smog, in New Delhi, India, Nov. 8, 2017.

“This appealed to us straightaway, the technology is very impactful but is beautifully simple,” says Sagar. Since it could be retrofitted, it did not disrupt the day-to-day activities at the buzzing office. “Let’s be responsible. Let’s at least not leave behind a larger footprint of carbon. And if we can afford to control it, why not, it’s good for all,” he says.

At Chakr Innovation, cups, diaries and paper bags printed with the ink made from the exhaust serve as constant reminders of the amount of carbon emissions that would have escaped into the atmosphere.

There has been a lot of focus on improving Delhi’s air by reducing vehicular pollution and making more stringent norms for manufacturers, but the same has not happened for diesel generators. Although there are efforts to penalize businesses that dirty the atmosphere, this often prompts them to find ways to get around the norms.

Also Read: Exposure to Traffic-Related Pollution Poses Threat of Asthma in Kids

Tushar Mathur who joined the start up after working for ten years in the corporate sector feels converting smoke into ink is a viable solution. “Here is a technology which is completely sustainable, a win-win between businesses and environment,” says Mathur. (VOA)