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India/Switzerland: Indian, Swiss tax authorities expected to meet over controversial 'HSBC list'

07 October 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Author: The Economic Times
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Author: The Economic Times

Indian and Swiss tax authorities are expected meet this month in an attempt to break the deadlock on sharing of information on citizens whose names have figured in the controversial 'HSBC list'.

New Delhi wants to exert pressure on the Alp nation following a pact between the world's key economies, G20, for sharing information on bank accounts and tax offenders. 

"There will be a meeting. Details and dates are being worked out," said a finance ministry official, adding that getting Switzerland to share details of beneficial owners of bank account holders in the HSBC list topped India's agenda.

The Narendra Modi government, which set up special investigation team to probe black money on its first day in office, has clearly outlined its focus on tackling the issue. 

Indians can legally have bank accounts in foreign lands, but they are supposed to pay tax on the money parked there and also disclose the details to local tax authorities. 

In the past few years, there has been a growing perception that Indian businessmen have been stashing away black money in tax havens, taking advantage of the secrecy laws of Swiss banking.

Switzerland buckled under global pressure and agreed to ease its banking secrecy laws in recent years and also signed a revised tax treaty with India in 2011 to facilitate greater flow of information on tax evaders.

But it refused to share information on the accounts mentioned in the so-called 'HSBC list' which India had received from France through a bilateral treaty. It has been widely reported that France had actually received the list after data was stolen by a disgruntled HSBC Geneva employee in 2011. 

India has now escalated the issue internationally with the global forum holding discussions on information sharing in cases of stolen data in September. 

The Swiss National Bank, on its website, has reported that the total deposit of Indians in their banks have increased to about Rs 14,100 crore at the end of 2013 from about Rs 8,547 crore a year ago. While former finance minister P Chidambaram had sent stern letters to his Swiss counterpart for sharing information, current finance minister Arun Jaitley too followed it up after taking over. And even though Switzerland has begun to respond in some cases, it is still resisting when it comes to the HSBC list. 

This article first appeared on economictimes.indiatimes.com.



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