Black money trail: No list of Indians holding money in Swiss banks, says Arun Jaitley

Written by Press Trust of India | New Delhi | Updated: Jul 9 2014, 16:24pm hrs
Swiss BanksHe said following amendments to the DTAC with Switzerland on October 7, 2011, India has made several requests seeking information about its nationals holding bank accounts in Swiss Banks.
India has been told four days ago that there is no list of Indian tax residents holding assets in Swiss Banks in their own name or through structures, the Rajya Sabha was informed today.

However, the government said the Swiss National Bank on its website reported that the total deposit of Indians in their banks have increased about Rs 14,100 crore at the end of 2013 from about Rs 8,547 crore a year ago.

In a written reply to Shantaram Naik, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that the government wrote to the Swiss Authorities on June 23 this year after it was reported in the media that Indians were keeping large amounts in Swiss banks.

In the letter under the provisions of Art 26 of the Direct Tax Avoidance Convention (DTAC), the government had asked Switzerland information in this regard that has been compiled by it.

"The Swiss Authorities in their reply dated July 4, 2014 have stated that there is no list of Indians tax residents holding assets in Swiss financial institutions in their own names or through structures," he said.

He said following amendments to the DTAC with Switzerland on October 7, 2011, India has made several requests seeking information about its nationals holding bank accounts in Swiss Banks.

"There has been a positive response to some requests, where information has been provided subject to the confidentiality clause in the said DTAC. In other cases, the Swiss government has not been providing the information requested citing restriction imposed by their domestic laws," he said.

On steps being taken to bring back black money stashed abroad, Jaitley said, the Finance Ministry has constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) under the chairmanship of former Supreme Court judge Justice M B Shah. The work of SIT is in the progress, he said.

In response to another unstarred question by Ishwarlal Shankarlal Jain whether the Swiss government has furnished the list of suspected Indians who had stashed black money there to the Indian government, Minister of State for Finance Nirmala Sitharaman said 'no'.

She also said no authentic estimate of black money of Indians in foreign banks was available with the government.

The information received under the provisions of Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements, Tax Information Exchange Agreements, Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters is covered by confidentiality clause in the said tax treaties, she said.

"Further, the details relating to assets and assessment of income etc regarding specific taxpayers cannot be disclosed," she said.

Sustained efforts have been made to obtain information about Indians having black money stashed abroad have resulted in levy of taxes and penalty and launching of prosecution in appropriate cases, she said in response to another question.

"However, it is not possible to state by which date black money would be brought back," she added.