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HindustanTimes Sat,23 Aug 2014

Black money: Swiss banks want evidence, India prepares cases

PTI  New Delhi, August 25, 2009
First Published: 18:56 IST(25/8/2009) | Last Updated: 19:20 IST(25/8/2009)

Negotiating with Switzerland for treaty for unearthing black money stashed there, India will take up specific cases with Swiss banks, which on Tuesday said there must be concrete suspicion or evidence of wrongdoing for them to help.

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Highly placed sources said that government is in the process of compiling the details and is expected to approach the Swiss authorities with specific cases.

Notwithstanding a revision in the Double Taxation Agreement between India and Switzerland, the Swiss Banks have made it clear that even under the new treaty fishing expeditions would not be allowed.

"I believe that India has lodged a request to revise its Double Taxation Agreement with Switzerland... (but) even under the new agreement and according to Organisation of Economic cooperation and Development Model Tax convention... there must be concrete suspicions and evidence of wrongdoing (for sharing the accounts details)," a top official of Swiss Bankers Association said from Basel.

Government sources said in New Delhi that India is already negotiating with Swiss government for revising double taxation avoidance treaty. The present treaty between the two nations was signed in 1995.

SBA's Head of International Communications James Nason said "the privacy of clients innocent of any wrongdoing should remain protected and any unjustified snooping be firmly prohibited."

Commenting on the uproar over Swiss banks not disclosing account details to India, the official questioned whether "banks in every other country of the world pin up the names of their clients on their front door for all to see."

"Citizens have a right to a high degree of privacy concerning their financial affairs," Nason said, adding that the Swiss bank-client confidentiality was never 100 per cent absolute, but sharing of details needed evidence of wrongdoings.

SBA also made it clear that the sharing of details with the US was limited to the accounts that "have clearly been used to commit tax fraud and the like."

"This is not a fishing expedition. This is a search based on very specific search criteria and the whole procedure conforms to existing Swiss law," SBA official added.

Switzerland was previously treating tax fraud and tax evasion differently when considering foreign requests for legal assistance in tax matters, but now it has agreed to give assistance for "all tax offences, including tax evasion."

"The new policy will be implemented through Double Taxation Agreements" such treaties with over 70 countries, including India, were in the process of revised accordingly, the official noted.


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