India and Switzerland expect auto info exchange on black money by 2018
23 June 2016
Seeking to enhance cooperation to fight the black money menace, India and Switzerland recently confirmed that a team would visit the Alpine nation to expedite pending information requests on Indians with Swiss bank accounts, while an automatic exchange of details would begin in 2018, reports Deccan Chronicle.
Following up on the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann in Geneva on June 6, a high-level delegation from Switzerland met top Finance Ministry officials to discuss wide ranging bilateral and multilateral tax and financial issues.
In his meetings with Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia and Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das, Swiss State Secretary for International Financial Matters, Jacques de Watteville also said that "Switzerland now has the necessary legal bases to begin with the implementation of automatic exchange of information (AEOI)" and a bilateral agreement can be reached by the end of this year.
"Once this agreement is signed, it will be possible for India to receive from 2018 financial information of accounts held by Indian residents in Switzerland on automatic basis," a Finance Ministry statement said, while adding "fighting the menace of black money stashed in offshore accounts has been a key priority for the government".
Experts of both the countries will meet by mid-September 2016 to further discuss the modalities for the reciprocal bilateral implementation of AEOI between India and Switzerland with a view to reaching an agreement at the earliest, possibly by the end of the year.
Hasmukh Adhia welcomed the decision of the Swiss Federal Council to amend the Tax Administrative Assistance Act in accordance with the OECD standard and provide administrative assistance in requests based on data obtained in breach of Swiss law.
"The amended proposal is now with the Swiss Parliament. An early revision of the Swiss law in respect of stolen data would take the Indo-Swiss tax cooperation to a new level," the joint statement said.
The discussion on stolen data was significant in view of India stepping up its efforts to trace details of Indians having offshore accounts that came to be known after the so-called leaked HBSC List.
The meeting assumes significance in the wake of the recent publication of leaked 'Panama Papers' where voluminous information on offshore accounts has been placed in the public domain, including that of hundreds of Indians.
Describing the talks as constructive, the two parties said their "joint declaration underlines the good cooperation between Switzerland and India in tax matters and which reiterates the willingness of the two countries to combat tax evasion and fraud".