Secret bank accounts: Switzerland promises India help in combating tax evasion

Written by fe Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Oct 17 2014, 02:17am hrs
Switzerland authorities on Thursday promised India to share information relating to secret bank accounts Indians hold in that country that are being investigated by Indian authorities for tax evasion, except in cases where its domestic law does not permit.

In a joint statement issued by Revenue Secretary Shaktikanta Das and Switzerland's State Secretary for International Financial Matters Jacques de Watteville from Bern, the two countries agreed to further co-operation in combating tax evasion.

Quoting Adrian Hug, Director of Swiss Federal Tax Administration, the statement said Switzerland has agreed that it would assist in obtaining confirmation of the genuineness of bank documents on request by the Indian side and swiftly provide information on requests related to non-banking information.

The statement issued after the first high-level meeting between the two countries tax and financial authorities since the Modi government took up office in May this year, also said India would indicate to the European nation which cases to be dealt with urgently.

However, Swiss help in investigations into Indians named in a controversial list of account holders in HSBC is still a distant possibility. The 'HSBC list' was allegedly stolen by a bank employee before it reached tax authorities across the world including India. Switzerland's domestic law prevents it from offering more information on the list as it involves stealing of information, a criminal offence in that country.

State Secretary de Watteville indicated that Switzerland would be willing to examine requests for which investigations have been carried out Independently from what the Swiss government considers as data obtained in breach of Swiss law, the joint statement issued on Thursday said. The high level meeting was attended by CBDT chairman KV Chowdary and Akhilesh Ranjan, Joint Secretary in the Revenue Department.