'Differences with India on making public Swiss bank a/c info'

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Washington, Oct 28 (PTI) Noting that tax evasion is not a criminal offence in Switzerland, a senior Swiss official has acknowledged differences with India on what can be made public about Indians having unaccounted money parked in Swiss banks.

However, the Swiss Foreign Ministry official hoped that with the advent of the new government in India, which has made taking action against black money a priority, the differences would be resolved much quickly. Valentin Zellweger, Director and Legal Adviser, Swiss Department of Foreign Affairs, at the same time asserted that there is no banking secrecy in case of illegal acts.

"There's no banking secrecy if we talk about illegal acts. So if we get a request from a prosecutor in another country, there's no banking secrecy. We have very stringent know your customer rules.

So we are quick in being able to give the information," he said.

Responding to a question on the first list of names, allegedly having accounts in Swiss banks on unaccounted wealth, Zellweger said the talks with the Indian Government so far has been on tax evasion and not any other illegal acts.

"We have had long discussions with the Indian government. But that is for tax evasion. Tax evasion used not to be a criminal offense under Swiss law. That is changing. We are now adapting to international standards," he told a Washington audience, acknowledging that this is a issue of dispute. "That is at the heart of the dispute. There is a disagreement with the Indian government and as to what exactly will have to be disclosed. There is a new Indian government. We now hope that we will be able to resolve the case much quicker than we could do so in the past," he said. 

(From Lalit K Jha)

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