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Monday, May 1, 2017

famous Jeweller of Dehradun sentenced for holding Bank Account in Swiss !!

In early 2011, several reports Indian media alleged Swiss Bankers Association officials to have said that the largest depositors of illegal foreign money in Switzerland are Indians.  Though these were to be denied immediately later by Swiss Bankers Association as well as the central bank of Switzerland – there have been many reported list containing the name of Indians having such black money deposits. 

In March, the salaried Indian middle class gets a different stress ! – Employers would be deducting tax at source; many would have assured saving in specified schemes X amount,  trying to have some IT exemption – at the 11th  hour would find that they could not save~ interestingly some would borrow to save !!  April is different, salaried middle class ordinary Indian is busy providing details of proposed savings and possible deductions towards Housing loan and more !!

Money problem would mean different to different persons.  Often the talk dwells on ‘black money’, nay not the colour of money.  Sometime back …. ‘a YYY group gave crores of loan, free of interest to that Eye hospital, which one were seeing at every corner that time.  It also gave substantial amount of Rs 40 cr in cash — that is, black money — ‘all on a single day’, ‘as a single transaction’ – the cash reportedly found its way to an influential politician who was an ex Central Minister…  Corruption, hoarding of money, black money and stashing money in foreign banks have been haunting the Nation and have been the themes of many blockbuster films where the incidence of black money is very high !

Till a few decades ago, men lived for their pride – keeping up promises and paying back debts were virtues and somebody not able to do so would even give up their lives.  Those who were unable to pay back their debts for some reasons announced their position by filing ‘insolvency petition’ [called yellow leaf-let] and those who had done so, had no honour in the society and would often commit suicide.  In recent times, we often see that Companies [chit funds and others] collect public money, don’t repay and cheat the public – the owners / directors when arrested, merrily wave their hands to the media, as if they had just achieved some notable thing.

In Sankar’s  ‘Sivaji, the Boss’ the story line was black money…. In Kandasamy, Vikram would hack the password and transfer millions of the villain’s account. In Hollywood style, James Bond enters a Swiss bank in Spain and is frisked before he can meet with the banker. In the "Da Vinci Code," a triangular-shaped key activates a robotic arm that pulls a safety deposit box from the wall in a Swiss bank in Paris to ultimately reveal the secret to Christianity. Never sure whether such things would happen and for that matter not sure even of imagination, on what a Swiss bank looks like.   Mostly we have a distorted or mostly unrealistic view of what it really means to have the prestigious Swiss bank account.  Our imagined Swiss bank accounts is for millionaires, criminals or government officials trying to hide ill-gotten wealth,  celebrities protecting their assets from former spouses.

Ever heard realistic version of a person holding Swiss bank account  ? – here is a Dehradun jeweler who has been handed imprisonment !

The court of the Dehradun Chief judicial Magistrate (CJM) recently  sentenced the owner of a famous jewellery showroom  at Dehradun  to two years' rigorous imprisonment for “hiding“ his Swiss bank account from the income tax (I-T) department. The court also slapped a fine of Rs.8 lakh on Raju Verma, who owns Punjab Jewellers on Rajpur Road. A prosecution lawyer said the I-T department had found that Verma had `92 lakh in his Swiss bank account in 2006, “which he had not disclosed to evade tax“. The jeweller has been convicted under Section 276 C (1) (wilful attempts to evade any tax) and Section 277 (false statement in verification) of the Income Tax Act 1961. The court, however, freed Verma on bail for a month to appeal in a higher court.

Incidentally , the I-T department had received a written complaint in 2012 which claimed that Verma had a personal bank account in HSBC's Geneva branch in Switzerland, which he had not disclosed to the government. “On the basis of the complaint, I-T department sleuths raided his house on Dehradun's Curzon Road on March 14, 2012 and recovered important documents regarding his Swiss bank account. He neither took the Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) permission to open the account and nor did he disclose the money deposited in it,“ prosecution lawyer SM Jain said. After gathering evidence against the jeweller, the income tax department filed a complaint with the economic offences wing of the CJM court in Dehradun in 2015. During the trial, the prosecution examined six I-T department officials, including its commissioner and inspectors, to prove the offence.  An official told TOI that ED imposed a fine of `5 lakh on Verma for violating Fema rules, which has already been paid by him.

For all that hype surrounding Swiss accounts, the secretive era could be at an end.  The neutral country has long been famed for its anonymous accounts which can be used to facilitate money laundering and tax evasion as well as being used for entirely legitimate purposes.  It has now bowed to increasing pressure to come into line with international transparency standards by introducing rules that ensure bank accounts details will be shared with tax authorities of other nations.

More than one hundred other states have already signed up to the international agreement. Switzerland will begin collecting the information this year and share it in 2018 with other signatories to the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters. Prior to 2017, Switzerland only provided bank account information upon request to countries with which it had signed a bilateral agreement to prevent double taxation. Even then, there was no guarantee of full cooperation. Data will now be automatically shared once a year among all countries who have signed up to the agreement.

For most of us, the news is interesting but has little or no relevance !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

20th Apr 2017.

Elephant calf comes calling home .. .. ....

‘depredation’ ~ (noun) would mean an act of attacking or plundering.  This word is often associated with the ravage/ raid and resultant damage caused by elephants.  The picture of an elephant atop a house at Mudumalai surprised me – but perhaps was no great news for locals !

There are frequent reports of wild elephants causing damage to crops, some property and rarely humans too. Most of the damage is said to be caused during the rainy season when the elephants from these protected areas enter the human settlements in this region. 

In summer, elephants search for waterholes and in their movements come in conflict with humans – again, in many cases, the shrinking forests and encroachments in the elephant corridor are cited as reason for the conflicts.  Globally, they are poached in large numbers, mainly for the tusks and are getting killed cruelly.

Those working in MNCs for sure would have heard very many high sounding terminologies, words of Management parlance  and some are associated with elephants.  Yes, elephants. Sales people go hunting for elephants; lack of coordination across teams is like the story of blind men grasping at the elephant; ~ and elephant in board rooms.

Board members are concerned about the Company’s value; that is related to growth and then profitability, declaration of dividends, goodwill, reach of Company’s product and the like. Making more money from existing customers is the heart of “Customer Success Management” and as the Company grows,  revenue from existing customers becomes a larger and larger part of its economic value. In Board rooms, there would be talk on new sales, bookings, managing sales and service, competitor analysis, leads and pipelines – but still, there could be larger and important issues, which may not be touched upon.

The phrase, ‘Elephant in the (board) room’ would mean an important and obvious topic, which everyone present is aware of, but which isn't discussed, as such discussion is considered to be uncomfortable.

Presence of elephant could be uncomfortable and not very pleasant as found out by a houseowner, as reported in Times of India of date.  Building a house close to the road with its roof at the ground level has its hazards. A vehicle can veer off the road and plunge into the house, Zumila knew. But not even in her wildest dreams did she expect an elephant to crash through the roof.

A jumbo and its year-old calf were taking a stroll in the early hours of Thursday in the Kozhipalam area of Gudalur town when the baby stepped on the asbestos roof of the house. The sheet gave way and the calf vanished into a hole right in front of the eyes of its horrified mom. Zumila, 30, and her 45-day old baby were deep asleep when a deafening crash jolted them awake. In the dim light Zumila could see an elephant in the room looking dazed.

Just a bad dream, she thought, and wanted to go back to sleep. But things started happening. On hearing the terrified baby shrieking, the equally petrified calf went berserk. Zumila grabbed her baby and made a dash for the kitchen. “The elephant calf, in its haste to get out of this strange environment, knocked her down causing minor injuries,“ said P Ganesan, forest officer, Gudalur range.

The calf could not get out of the house as the front door was closed. Just as Zumila was desperate to save her child, the calf 's mother too was looking for ways to get its baby out of the mess. “The mother elephant broke open the back door of the house and pulled the calf out,“ said the forest official. “Once we received the information, we went to the spot and coaxed the elephant and its calf back to the forest,“ he said. Located on the Ooty Kozhikode road, Kozhipalam is just 500 metres away from a reserve forest area.

A badly shaken Zumila was  admitted to Gudalur Government Hospital. “We have photographed the damaged house. After procedural formalities, the government will recommend compensation to be paid to the family, the Forest official added.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
21st Apr 2017.

PS :  During an Insurance seminar of IIISLA at Anaikatti, Coimbatore, I thought of taking a luncheon stroll – was informed by the lonely gatekeeper not to venture far on the road and be conscious all the time. It sounded eerie but this photo answers it all .. .. 

Monday, April 17, 2017

United Air gets people off air and is in news !!!

Even today, we feel that Train travel is for the masses and elites travel by air ! – till a couple of decades ago, the most arduous part was standing in long queues and booking tickets.  Indian Railways revolutionized the way people travel, or rather they buy tickets when they first introduced Computerised reservation and later – the e-ticket.
When you book, ticket may not be readily available and you get wait-listed.  Some may still not know that waiting list ticket is invalid and one cannot travel holding the same.  Earlier, unconfirmed e-tickets only were considered invalid, but those with tickets (waiting list) can travel in general compartment and may get an upgrade, in case there is still some vacancy, with people not showing up.

Away in USA, a couple about to be married -  groom Michael Hohl,and his fiancee Amber Maxwell discovered people sleeping in their allocated seats when they boarded the plane, after a layover at George Bush Intercontinental airport after departing Salt Lake City.  They reportedly  moved to different seats in the same class, because people were sleeping in theirs and he didn’t want to wake them up ~ and now they are in no news, for seemingly no fault of theirs.

United Airlines, Inc., commonly referred to as United, is a major American airline headquartered in Chicago, Illinois.  By some accounts, it is the world's third-largest airline when measured by revenue, operates a domestic and international route network, and has presence in the Asia-Pacific region. United was founded in 1926 as Varney Air Lines  and was later known as United Air Lines.  United operates out of nine airline hubs located in Chicago, Denver, Guam, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark, San Francisco, Tokyo and Washington, D.C.

Recently they were in news for all wrong reasons - after passenger Dr David Dao lost two front teeth and suffered a broken nose when he was forcibly removed from a fligh.  United Airlines said the move was aimed at improving its customer services.
The incident involving Dr Dao caused outrage and widespread condemnation of the airline after shocking footage was shared and watched by millions of people online.His daughter, Crystal Dao Pepper, later told a news conference in Chicago that the family had been "sickened" by what had happened.Law enforcement officials dragged Dr Dao off a flight departing from Chicago for Louisville, Kentucky, because it was fully booked, and the airline wanted four passengers to make way for staff members.The 69-year-old Vietnamese-American physician had refused to leave, saying he needed to go home to see his patients. He was then dragged down the aisle of the aircraft.His lawyer later said that Dr Dao found the experience "more horrifying and harrowing than what he experienced when leaving Vietnam".

The ordeal led to demonstrations at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport and turned into a public relations disaster for United Airlines.  Now comes the news of a  bride and groom headed to Costa Rica for their wedding getting  kicked off a United flight out of Houston following an issue with seating on the plane.

Michael Hohl, the groom, said he and his fiancĂ©, Amber Maxwell, were the last to board United Airlines Flight 1737 which was headed from Houston to Liberia, Costa Rica. According to Hohl, they noticed a man was spread across their row napping when they approached their seats, so they decided to move three rows up to row 21.He said they didn't think it would matter because the flight was half full with multiple empty rows.“We thought not a big deal, it’s not like we are trying to jump up into a first-class seat," said Hohl.“We were simply in an economy row a few rows above our economy seat.”In a Boeing 737-800 like the one the couple was on, United considers Row 21 "economy plus," which is an upgrade.

After sitting, Hohl said a flight attendant approached and asked if they were in their ticketed seats. The couple explained they weren't and asked if they could get an upgrade, but instead they were told they needed to return to their assigned seats.Hohl said after complying with the flight attendant's demand, a U.S. Marshall came onto the plane and asked them to get off.The couple cooperated and got off the plane without incident, but they still don't understand why.

United Airlines said in a statement that the couple tried to sit in an upgraded seat "repeatedly" and they "wouldn't follow crew instructions."The bride and groom were rebooked for another flight the next morning, but Hohl said they won't be flying United again and described the whole situation as "quite strange."

Despite their flight delay, their wedding is still planned for Thursday.United Airlines is steel reeling after the  viral video of passenger being dragged off a United flight went viral.

Strange are the ways of people

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

17th Apr 2017.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

heritage home damaged by fire at Dorset ~ what is indemnity ??

‘And near that day one of his soldiers with his sword casually killed Lady Strode in that same place.’ - So wrote A. R. Bayley in his book, The Great Civil War in Dorset 1642-1660, published in 1910. The soldier was one of those under the command of Colonel Fairfax, the Parliamentary commander in the West, and ‘that same place’ was Parnham House near Beaminster. It was one of the examples of gratuitous violence that occurred during the 1640s when England was rent by the Civil War. Dorset, (Dorsetshire) is a county in South West England on the English Channel coast. Covering an area of 2,653 square kilometres (1,024 sq mi), Dorset borders Devon, Somerset,  Wiltshire, Hampshire (thankfully couple of counties that I have read the names because of their Cricket connection !!)

Fire Insurance is a contract whereby the Insurers upon consideration,  agree to indemnify the insured against loss or damage to subject matter insured caused by perils during the currency of policy. In India, we have the Standard Fire & Special Perils Policy.  Though the name is Fire Policy, it covers a host of perils including – flood, cyclone, storm, riot, strike, impact damage and more.  There has to be a specified subject matter which is insured against, at a given value, i.e., the sum insured.  It can be Building, Plant & machinery and Stocks – and when damaged by insured perils, the Insurer’s indemnify – place the insured back in the position as they were prior to the loss.  This indemnification is purely on monetary terms and no Insurer can in reality bring back certain subject-matter – and the subject matter is a heritage building damaged by fire. 

MailOnline reports that Twenty fire engines were called to Parnham House, in Dorset, this morning to tackle the blaze. Pictures appear to show a large part of the home engulfed by flames which gutted the interior.  The mansion is believed to be privately owned with all occupants accounted for.  Dorset Police are investigating how the fire was started  and have not ruled out suspiscious circumstances. 

The building damaged in fire is a  16th century stately home and Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service tweeted images of the blaze which appeared to destroy a large part of the mansion.  The house is believed to be privately owned by Michael and Emma Treichl who renovated the site eight years ago. A spokeswoman for Dorset Police told Somerset Live officers were alerted at 4.10am.  'Officers arrived at 4.25am to find an extensive fire at the premises - all occupants were accounted for,' she said and an investigation in to the cause of fire was on.

It was the site of the brutal 1645 murder during the English Civil War. Parnham was brought into the ownership of the Strode family in the mid-1500s who lived in the property for 200 years.  It was the site of murder  of Lady Ann Strode by a soldier under the command of Colonel Thomas Fairfax - commander-in-chief of the Parliamentarian forces during the English Civil War. During the 1920s the house was a country club until it was used to accommodate American soldiers during the Second World War. It was bought by the Treichls in 2001. Before the fire, the house and gardens were open to the public during spring and summer.

Had the property been insured, its owners might get the value required for rebuilding the same at its present site, but the heritage value, however, would have been lost forever.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

15th Apr 2017.