Access to black money in Swiss banks by April, says Pranab | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Access to black money in Swiss banks by April, says Pranab

delhi Updated: Jul 22, 2011 00:47 IST
Gautam Chikermane
Gautam Chikermane
Hindustan Times
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By April 1, 2012, India could get access to the black money allegedly stashed away in Swiss banks, bringing an end to economic tension between the two countries.

"I was told that it may be possible for them to give it in September," finance minister Pranab Mukherjee told a group of editors on Thursday.

"But some information is coming from our mission that it could be April 1, 2012."

Making things better for the government that in the recent past has been under attack from the Supreme Court, the opposition and civil society over inaction on tackling black money, the agreement, signed with Switzerland on August 30, 2010 and approved by the Swiss parliament on June 17, could come into force as early as October 7.

"We have a 100-day period during which people can ask for a national referendum if we don't like the treaty," Swiss ambassador Philippe Welti told HT.

"This takes the date to October 6, during which we wait."

"My personal feeling is that there will be no need for a referendum," Welti said.

"So, by October 7, we will be able to inform the Indian government, following which both our governments can file requests on tax evasion."

But technically, the treaty will be applicable only since January 1, 2011, which means the money lying there before this date will not be accessible to Indian authorities.

So, all estimates of this money - from $460 billion (Rs 2,047,000 crore) by Global Financial Integrity to Rs 2,500,000 crore by the BJP task force on black money - will remain just that: estimates. No action will be possible under this treaty.

"That does not matter," Mukherjee said.

"If we get current information, it will be possible for us to chase it back. We need just one clue. We can start expanding on that."

It has not been easy to get this cooperation from foreign jurisdictions, Mukherjee said. Before the global financial crisis, they were reluctant and lukewarm.

"It was only after the Pittsburgh G20 Summit (in September, 2009) that all countries were told action would be taken by the international community against non-cooperative countries and jurisdictions that they started cooperating," he said.

Even with the treaty ratified, it'll not be a cakewalk to catch tax evaders.

"The Indian government must make a case of tax evasion about an individual," Welti said.

"They must name the tax payer and his identity, give an indication of the money evaded and evidence to support that."