India gets second set of data on Swiss bank account holders: Official
The data will be examined by agencies dealing with black money investigations to see if there are any irregularities in these bank accounts belonging to Indians, said officials.Updated: Oct 09, 2020, 21:40 IST
The Switzerland authorities have shared details of bank accounts of Indians nationals and entities allegedly holding black money as part of a confidential agreement between the two countries, people familiar with the development said.
The data will be examined by agencies dealing with black money investigations to see if there are any irregularities in these bank accounts belonging to Indians, people cited above added.
The latest exchange of financial data by Switzerland’s Federal Tax Administration (FTA) – second time in last one year - is part of the framework of the global standard on the Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) to combat the problem of offshore tax evasion and avoidance and stashing of unaccounted money abroad requiring cooperation amongst tax authorities, a senior finance ministry official said.
The information exchange this year with 86 countries including India involves nearly 3.1 million (31 lakh) financial accounts, FTA said in a statement on Friday.
It is not immediately known exactly how many of these are accounts linked to Indians.
India has activated AEOI relationship for receiving information from over 96 jurisdictions such as Switzerland, Luxembourg, Bahamas, British Virgin Islands and Mauritius.
Switzerland and India had signed a joint declaration on the introduction of AEOI on tax matters on November 22, 2016 on reciprocal basis.
The first set of documents on accounts held by Indian residents in Swiss banks was shared in September last year for the year 2018, said this finance ministry official.
“The data, thus, received are processed by tax authorities and agencies and the processing of information takes time. If some suspicious activities are found involving certain individual accounts, agencies probe their details further and on the basis of material evidence, notices are served and taxes along with penalties are recovered,” the official said. This official declined to divulge any detail because of the confidential agreement.
Amit Maheshwari, Partner AKM Global, a tax and consulting firm told HT, “AEOI is an important tool under the aegis of Gobal Forum to help countries get important information on an automatic basis instead of on request. This will help countries and in this case India to use this information to investigate whether account holders have correctly paid taxes on these overseas assets. Overseas assets by Indians are a focus area of the government and this exchange of information would form the backbone of the quest to bring to task tax evaders who have stashed money abroad.”
Sherbir Panag, Partner at Panag and Babu and international legal expert on white collar crimes, said: “The Global Forum is a step in the right direction towards a more cohesive exchange of financial accounts between countries. Safe havens and lack of transparency, touted by some countries for foreign investment attraction - remain a big impediment to the global fight against money laundering and financial crimes. Nothing frustrates the efforts of national law enforcement authorities and victims of fraud, as much as lack of international cooperation. That said, there’s a long way to go for meaningful reform.”