Pune, Mar 8: Rs 35,000 crores of wealth, 10 Swiss Bank accounts plus what's still not known! Have the I-T and Enforcement Directorate sleuths bumped into who could possibly be one of the top five richest Indians or the fourth richest man in India?
Initial reports coming in from Pune, where the Income-Tax department conducted what has been called the biggest income tax raids ever, say the I-T sleuths have traced Rs 35,000 crore of money to accounts operated by Pune-based businessman Hasan Ali.
While the reports only talked about money stashed in Ali's accounts, the transaction details of which were found on his computers, the actual worth of his wealth is yet to be estimated. Enforcement Directorate officers are already in Switzerland and seven out of his 10 accounts have been frozen so far.
But even if one is to go by the conservative estimates of what has been found in the raids, the I-T sleuths have surely traced someone, who should be an automatic addition to the Forbes list of billionaires and be placed, possibly, right next to software czar Azim Premji.
According to the Forbes' list of Indian Billionaires for 2006, steel tycoon LN Mittal tops the list with wealth of $33.7 billion or approximately Rs 1,49,661 crores. Mukesh Ambani comes second with $19.5 billion or Rs 86,585 crores and his brother Anil Ambani third with assets of $17.6 billion or Rs 77,7140 crores.
Azim Premji is fourth on the list with wealth of $13.3 billion or Rs 59,052 crores. Next to him is DLF's K P Singh, whose wealth is estimated to be $5 billion or Rs 22,194 crore. But this figure wanes if one starts counting Hasan Ali's seized assets.
And if one is to go by the reports pouring in from Pune, the Rs 35,000 crore "unaccounted" assets that the I-T sleuths have traced so far may not be inclusive of his known or "accounted" assets.
Considering that his visible list of properties and wealth itself is huge, it won't be a big surprise if Hasan Ali actually surpasses even Azim Premji to be among the top four.
According to the last count, India was home to 28 billionaires as of 2006, which was 10 more than last year.
But it is estimated that the actual number could actually be more than double if one is to take into account all those who have kept their billions hidden or stashed in foreign banks. And by all accounts, Hasan Ali seems to be one of the toppers among them.