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India to seek bank information on unaccounted money from Swiss government

Monday, 23 June 2014 - 3:05pm IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: PTI

Seeking to expedite information sharing from Switzerland, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Monday the government will write to the European nation seeking details of Indians who have unaccounted money in Swiss banks.

The minister's remark comes a day after a Swiss government official told PTI that names of certain persons and entities, who have come under scanner of Swiss authorities, is being shared with India. Jaitley said his Ministry is yet to receive official communication in this regard.

"We are today writing ourselves to the Swiss authorities with whom the Ministry has been in touch so that details with regard to whatever information the authorities have can be expedited and the cooperation between the Swiss authorities and the government of India can bring fruitful results. Our communication will be sent today itself," Jaitley said in New Delhi.

He was referring to the issue of Indians allegedly stashing unaccounted money in Swiss banks.

"News has appeared in various sections of the media quoting Swiss authorities that they are willing to actively cooperate with the government of India in giving details about Indians who hold bank accounts in the Swiss banking system," he said.

According to the latest data published by Switzerland's central bank SNB, Indian money in various Swiss banks rose by 43% during 2013 o close to Rs 14,000 crore, including the money held directly by Indian clients and those through fiduciaries or wealth managers.

As part of its efforts to bring back black money, the Union Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on its first day in office constituted a special investigative team to unearth illicit money.

Under the chairmanship of MB Shah, SIT had its first meeting on June 2. The other members of the team comprised another retired Supreme Court judge Arijit Pasayat as vice-chairman, Revenue Secretary, directors of CBI, IB, RAW and ED, the CBDT Chairman and an RBI deputy governor. The panel has jurisdiction in cases where investigations have commenced or are waiting to be initiated or have been completed.

The Swiss government has been refusing to share details about the Indians named in this 'HSBC list', which was stolen by a bank employee and later found its way to tax authorities in various countries including India. Despite repeated requests from India, Switzerland had maintained that its local laws prohibit administrative assistance in matters where information has been sourced illegally, including through stolen lists.

The said 'HSBC list' allegedly contains names of Indians and other foreign nationals having ill-gotten wealth in Swiss unit of the global banking major. India is one of the 36 countries with which Switzerland has signed treaties to provide administrative assistance in tax matters in accordance with international standards. 

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