INDIA’S fight against suspected black money stashed abroad will get a major boost this September in the form of first set of detailed financial information about all Indians having Swiss bank accounts, including those closed since last year. The details that Switzerland would share with Indian tax authorities under the Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) framework would include account numbers, credit balance and all kinds of financial income for each Indian client of every Swiss financial institution. The first set in September would be followed by further despatches on a yearly basis, according to Switzerland’s Federal Department of Finance (FDF).
This would be in addition to details already being shared by Switzerland with India for nearly 100 Indian entities, including individuals and enterprises, on submission of prima facie evidence of their financial wrongdoings, under a bilateral pact for administrative assistance on tax matters. Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedhran also said in written reply to a Lok Sabha question on Wednesday that India will start receiving information on automatic basis from September about financial accounts held in Switzerland by Indian residents. Besides, the India-Switzerland tax treaty facilitates receipt of information on request basis for cases under investigation, he said.
“The information received on request or on automatic basis may include information about persons allegedly involved in corruption,” the Minister said. Asked whether the Government would reveal those names, the Minister, however, said that the ‘use and disclosure of the information’ is governed by confidentiality provisions. Explaining the AEOI with India, which has come into force from January 1, 2018, the FDF said that Switzerland, as a global wealth management hub, is committed to contributing to the integrity of the international financial system and to a level playing field.
“Switzerland applies the international transparency standards and therefore actively supports India in its fight against tax fraud and evasion,” it said. Under the AEOI framework, detailed financial information on all Indian residents that have an account maintained by a Swiss financial institution in 2018 will be provided for the first time to the Indian tax authorities in September 2019 and on a yearly basis thereafter. The information would include accounts that were closed during 2018, it said. It is feared many Indians might have closed their accounts after a global crackdown on black money led to Switzerland buckling under pressure to open its banking sector for scrutiny to clear the long-held perception of Swiss banks being safe haven for undisclosed funds.