Black money: Swiss agree to help with time-bound information

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Black Money: Swiss to help India
Berne/New Delhi, Oct 15:  As India steps up its pursuit of black money stashed abroad, Switzerland today agreed to assist Indian authorities on a priority basis and provide requested banking information in a time-bound manner.

The Swiss authorities would also "assist in obtaining confirmation on genuineness of bank documents on request by the Indian side and also swiftly provide information on requests related to non-banking information".

The breakthrough, which comes after Switzerland's repeated refusal to share information with Indian authorities on alleged cases of black money stashed in Swiss banks, was achieved at a high-level meeting between senior government officials of the two countries in Berne.

"The Swiss competent authority will provide the Indian side with the requested information in a time-bound manner or else indicate the reasons why the cases cannot be answered within the agreed timeline," a Swiss-Indian joint statement said after a high-level meeting between the officials of the two countries on tax matters.

India has sought information on bank accounts and other details

The meeting took place in Berne between Revenue Secretary Shaktikanta Das and his Swiss counterpart, State Secretary for International Financial Matters, Jacques de Watteville. There has been a huge political uproar over Indian black money allegedly stashed in Swiss banks and the new government has said it is committed to tackling this menace.

As per Swiss National Bank's latest data, the total money held by Indians in Swiss banks stood at over Rs 14,000 crore as on December 2013, up by nearly 42 per cent from a year ago.

Today's meeting followed a Swiss delegation visit to New Delhi in February 2014 and was the first high-level meeting between the two countries' tax and financial authorities since the new Indian government took up office in May this year.

Switzerland, which also agreed today to consider including India among the nations for automatic exchange of information, has been repeatedly rejecting India's requests for information on Indians named in a so-called HSBC list.

India has sought information on bank accounts and other details of the persons named in this list, but Switzerland has been refusing to cooperate saying these names were obtained "illegally" or through sale of stolen data by ex-employees.

PTI

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