The Swiss government on Friday promised to consider changes in domestic law that would enable sharing of information and administrative assistance in probe into cases of unaccounted wealth on the basis of data in India which Switzerland call were stolen.
Visiting economic affairs minister Schneider Ammann said the government would approach Parliament in the second half of the year to clarify the legal situation around administrative assistance based on stolen data.
Switzerland is considering the global standards on exchange of information in tax matters at a time a host of global investigating agencies are seeking information on individuals who had accounts with HSBC’s Geneva Branch that were not disclosed to tax authorities back home. India obtained the data legitimately from the French government after a whistleblower leaked the information which later reached several governments.
Switzerland does not entertain requests for banking information at present if they are based on stolen data as theft is a criminal offence in the country. Ammann said Switzerland was very sensitive about the fact the black money issue was very important for India and needs to be addressed. The minister, who is in India on a three-day visit, said his country has decided to follow international norms, including the OECD guidelines on information sharing and administrative assistance to foreign governments probing unaccounted wealth.
Ammann said the Swiss government’s apex decision making body, the Federal Council, has decided to provide a ‘clarification’ to Parliament on legal situation on administrative assistance in cases of stolen data. Switzerland was committed to follow international standards, but India should appreciate that it has a Parliamentary process and the Swiss government could only give its proposal.