India has stepped up pressure on Switzerland to provide information about persons holding bank accounts in branches of HSBC in the Alpine nation, against whom “incriminating evidence of tax evasion” have been found.
In a strongly-worded letter to Swiss finance minister Eveline Widmer Schlumpf, finance minister P Chidambaram said an effective exchange of tax-related information was “extremely important” for economic co-operation between the two countries. Switzerland must honour its “rights and duties” agreed to in the bilateral Direct Tax Avoidance Convention (DTAC), he said.
Switzerland had signed a revised tax treaty with India in 2011 to enable greater flow of information about alleged black money. This is Chidambaram’s third letter in four months on the issue to his Swiss counterpart.
Chidambaram said Switzer­land was putting unusual pre-conditions for sharing information, which appear to be “intended to refuse assistance” and such refusal amounts to Swiss authorities providing protection to the people “found to have evaded Indian taxes.”
Last month, Switzerland had told India that information could not be shared as it was being sought on the basis of stolen data. Swiss local laws do not allow exchange of information in cases where data is obtained through criminal means.
Chidambaram then wrote to say that India would take up the issue at multilateral forums such as the G20 if Switzerland continued to block requests for sharing information about bank accounts.