Black money: Swiss govt to share list of Indian account holders

The decision by Switzerland government to share the list with its Indian counterpart of account holders with its banks would give a big boost to latter’s fight against black money. The Narendra Modi-led government has come to power with a promise to bring back untaxed black money stashed away in the Swiss bank accounts. A nationwide political agitation was led against black money by party patriarch Lal Krishna Advani and later a social movement by BJP sympathiser yoga guru Baba Ramdev.

The names of these Indian individuals and entities have come under scanner of the Swiss authorities during an ongoing exercise to identify real beneficiary owners of funds held in various banks operating in Switzerland, said an agency report quoting a senior Swiss government official.

‘These individuals and entities are suspected to have held un-taxed money in Swiss banks through structures like trusts, domiciliary companies and other legal entities based out of countries other than India,’ said the official. Refusing to divulge the identity of these persons and entities, as also the quantum of funds held by them in Swiss banks, the official cited confidentiality clause of the bilateral information exchange treaty between the two countries.

The official further said that Swiss authorities were very keen to work with the new government in India and they would also provide all necessary support to the newly set up Special Investigation Team (SIT) on black money. He, however, dismissed claims that black money stashed in Swiss banks by Indians could be trillions of dollars, as the latest Swiss National Bank data pegs the total foreign client money across 283 banks in Switzerland at US 1.6 trillion dollars. When asked about rise in Indian exposure to Swiss banks at 2.03 billion Swiss francs (Rs 14,000 crore), he said these are the funds held by clients who have declared themselves as Indian and therefore were unlikely to be ill-gotten wealth.

While declining to be named, as he is not authorised to speak to media, the senior official further said the details are being shared with India on a ‘spontaneous’ basis and are different from the information sought earlier by the Indian authorities on the basis of ‘leaked’ or ‘stolen’ lists of certain banks, including the so-called ‘HSBC list’.
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