India to Switzerland: Join group on illegal money info sharing

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To address the problem of illegal money stashed abroad, India has asked Switzerland to join the Early Adopter Group mandating an automatic exchange of information amongst the countries involved in the group, Parliament was informed today.

"The Finance Minister has written a letter to the Swiss Finance Minister on August 1, 2014, inviting Switzerland to join the 'Early Adopter Group' to the new global standards.

"A request has also been made to Switzerland for entering into a Competent Authority Agreement on Automatic Exchange of Information as per the new global standards to enhance further cooperation between India and Switzerland in tax matters," Minister of State for Finance Nirmala Sitharaman said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha.

She was answering a query on whether India will continue to put pressure on Switzerland to share information on alleged illegal funds stashed away by its citizen in Swiss Banks in line with a global declaration.

The Early Adopter Group comprising of 44 countries, including India, earlier in March this year committed itself to early adoption of Common Reporting Standard on Automatic Exchange of Information related with tax evasion.

The countries involved in Early Adopter Group recognise that tax evasion is a global problem requiring global solution and a new global standard on automatic exchange of information between tax authorities.

It is also recognised that the initiative will provide them ability

to clamp down on tax evasion, which reduces public revenues and increases

burden on those who pay their taxes, she added.

India along with 46 other countries and European Union have also adopted a Declaration on Automatic Exchange of Information in May, 2014.

In a recent development, giving in to pressure from India and several other countries, Switzerland has made key changes in its local laws governing assistance to foreign nations in their pursuit of black money allegedly stashed in Swiss banks.

These amendments, which have come into force this month, would allow India and other countries to make 'group requests' for information about suspected black money hoarders, while Swiss authorities would not give prior intimation to suspected individuals or entities before sharing their details.

Switzerland also said it is committed to cooperate with the new government in India's fight against black money and has invited an Indian delegation to visit Berne for discussions in this regard.

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