Switzerland has prepared a list of Indian citizens who are suspected to have untaxed money in various banks operating in the country and is willing to share the details with the Indian government. The Swiss authorities have identified the names of certain Indian nationals in an attempt to track down the real beneficiaries of funds held in different Swiss banks.
The Swiss government, however, refused to make the identities of those involved known, citing a confidentiality clause of the information exchange framework between India and Switzerland. “These individuals and entities are suspected to have un-taxed money in Swiss banks through structures like trusts, domiciliary companies and other legal entities based out of countries other than India,” an official who did not wish to be identified told PTI. He said that Swiss authorities were keen to work with the newly set up Special Investigation Team (SIT) on black money.
India’s Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, however, said that the government of India has not received any information from Switzerland regarding “black money”. “We are writing to Swiss authorities so that the details or whatever information they have can be expedited and the cooperation between Swiss authorities and the government can bring fruitful results,” Jaitley said June 23.
In a first major policy step after taking charge, the Modi government has set up an 11-member Special Investigation Team (SIT) to help identify Indians who were stashing money in foreign accounts. The SIT is headed by Justice M.B. Shah, a former Supreme Court judge.
Switzerland’s Central Bank, SNB, has published official data, which shows that the money from India deposited in Swiss banks increased by 43 percent during 2013 and is estimated to be close to Rs 14000 crores (2.3 billion Swiss Francs). However, the official added that not all of these funds may be through illegal means as some of the clients have willfully declared themselves as citizens of India.
The information being shared with India varies from the one that was asked for by the Indian authorities earlier which was based on the “stolen” lists of certain banks, including the much talked about HSBC list. In spite of repeated requests, Switzerland has shown its inability to share the information on the ‘HSBC’ list, citing reasons like: its local laws do not allow administrative assistance on matters where information has been sourced in an illegal manner.
Allegations of trillions of dollars of un-taxed or unaccounted money from India being put in Swiss banks has been dismissed by the authorities in Switzerland. The total foreign clients’ money across 283 banks in Switzerland is estimated to be $1.6 trillion, of which India’s total share accounts for a small 0.15%. Almost two-third of the total money held by Indians in Switzerland lies with UBS and Credit Suisse.
The previous UPA government, which claimed to have set up a mechanism to deal with tax evasion, was repeatedly criticized by the Supreme Court of India for failing to take steps in regard to the serious matter.
In its campaign pitch, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had vowed to bring back black money to the country.
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