India has told Switzerland that it will drag the European nation to multilateral forums such as the G20 if it continued to block requests for sharing information money stashed in its banks.
"Switzerland's refusal to provide information to India and other countries on the grounds that the source of the information requested is based on 'stolen data' means that, in practice, Switzerland still believes in bank secrecy and is therefore not in tune with the modern era," finance minister P Chidambaram told his Swiss counterpart Eveline Widmer Schlumpf in a letter dated March 13.
Chidambaram said Switzerland cannot violate its obligations under the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) with India on any grounds, including on "moralistic" grounds when India has "all along acted in good faith and requested the information in a bonafide manner."
Confirming the development, a Swiss government spokesperson told PTI from Bern: "We have received a letter from India's finance minister. He will receive an answer soon."
The finance minister had said the government is seriously concerned that Indian tax payers may have parked substantial unaccounted income overseas.
Recalling G20's stand that sanctions may be deployed to protect public finances, he said: "If information continues to be denied to India under Double Taxation Avoidance Convention (DTAC), the Government of India will be constrained to take a position in the global forum."
He said the Indian government would not hesitate to tell global forums that Switzerland still does not comply with the standards of transparency and that the required legal and regulatory framework is still not in place in Switzerland.
"Further, the Government of India may also have to raise this issue in other multilateral fora such as the G20," he added.