Switzerland is in the process of amending its laws that would make it easier for countries to obtain details of black money based on information emanating from ‘stolen data’, the Indian government informed Parliament on Tuesday.
“The Swiss Federal Council initiated the consultation proceedings on the revision of the Tax Administrative Assistance Act, which provides for an easing of Swiss practices with regard to stolen data,” the council said in a press release, as quoted in a reply to the Parliament.
“It should now be possible to respond to requests, if a foreign country has obtained the stolen data via normal administrative assistance channels or from public sources,” it said, according a reply in Parliament.
“A bill to enact such revision is due to be discussed in the Swiss Parliament in due course,” finance minister Arun Jaitley said in a written reply in Rajya Sabha.
Till October 2014, Switzerland had not provided the information requested by India is respect of the list of account holders in HSBC Bank, Geneva, stating that it represented stolen data and that as per its domestic laws, information cannot be provided it if relates to data obtained through a criminal offense under Swiss law.
“An alternative method of obtaining the information and documents through the taxpayer and from the HSBC bank directly on the basis of consent letters issued by the account holders was also pursued which has led to obtaining of the requisite information/documents in several cases,” Jaitley said.
He further said that consequent to the visit of a delegation to Switzerland and a joint statement issued after the meeting in Berne in October 2014, Switzerland has agreed to provide information on cases where investigations have been carried out by the Income Tax Department independently from what Swiss government considers as stolen data.
“Accordingly, requests based on evidence gathered by Income Tax Department, independently of the stolen data have been sent and are being pursued further with Switzerland,” Jaitley added.