PC demands full disclosure from Swiss banks
Mar 28 2014 , New Delhi
Releasing his letter to his Swiss counterpart Eveline Widmer Schlumpf on March 13, finance minister P Chidambaram on Thursday said India might also consider action against Switzerland under its domestic laws for failure to effectively exchange information under the double tax avoidance convention between the two countries.
India reportedly wanted Switzerland to provide information on bank accounts held by Indians that were part of an HSBC bank list of 700 Indians that the French government provided to India last year. The 700 Indians are reported to be holding HSBC accounts in Geneva.
The two-page letter said, “In the event of continued denial of access to vital information, which Switzerland is obliged to provide under the DTAC, Indian may be constrained to actively consider the options available under domestic laws.”
“Switzerland's refusal to provide information to India and other countries on the grounds that the source of the information requested is based on 'stolen data' means that, in practice, Switzerland still believes in bank secrecy and is therefore not in tune with the modern era," the letter said.
The letter’s release came close on the heels of the Supreme Court rapping the government on Wednesday for its failure to take effective steps to bring back black money. Opposition parties have been targeting the UPA II government for its failure to unearth money in the election campaign for the April-May Lok Sabha polls.
The Congress manifesto released on Wednesday too said serious and systematic efforts have been made by the Congress-led UPA government to track down and recover black money. “This determined effort will continue unabated. We will appoint a special envoy to pursue this agenda.”
Cyprus was declared as a notified jurisdiction last year for its failure to effectively exchange information with India.
Switzerland has closed requests by India in 562 cases despite legal obligation under DTAC, the letter said adding some serious cases of investigation may become time-barred on March 31.
"If information continues to be denied to India under DTAC (Double Taxation Avoidance Convention), the government of India will be constrained to take a position in the global forum," he said adding India would not hesitate to tall global forums that Switzerland still does not comply with the standards of transparency and that the required legal and regulatory framework is still not in place in that country.
India and Switzerland had bilateral discussion in early February but “no progress was made during the discussions and the Swiss delegation merely reiterated their previously stated positions and refused to consider any options or alternate approaches," the letter said.