Client info to be shared under condtions set by OECD: Swiss banks

These conditions have been laid out by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in its Model Tax Convention that governs the tax information exchange agreements between the signatory countries, a senior official at Switzerland-based banks' apex body Swiss Banker's Association (SBA) told PTI.

Switzerland is signing revised tax treaties with a host of other countries as per OECD's Model Tax Convention in order to facilitate the bilateral exchange of information related to bank account details of tax evaders.

It is not the Swiss banks themselves who are laying down the conditions on their own to facilitate sharing information in tax evasion cases, SBA's spokesperson James Nason said in an e-mailed statement.

"The conditions for information exchange are in fact laid down by OECD, specially in the Commentary to the OECD's Model Tax Convention and also in the OECD's manual on tax information exchange agreements," Nason said.

"Switzerland is simply implementing the international standard on information exchange in tax matters set by OECD. Swiss banks play no role in laying down these conditions," he noted.

The conditions set out by OECD require the foreign authorities seeking specific Swiss bank account details to furnish the identity of suspected offenders, details of the alleged offence along with facts to undermine the suspicion, name of the concerned bank and branch in Switzerland and a written request from the foreign country's tax agency.
SBA listed out these conditions, laid down by Paris-based OECD, in its latest 'compendium' on the Swiss banking sector.

"The foreign tax authority has to submit a request in writing, stating an adequately reasonable suspicion," as per the first OECD condition being adopted by Swiss banks.
Secondly, the request would need to "contain a specific reference to the identity of the person liable to tax".

The two other conditions are that "the facts of the tax evasion case have to be adequately described (and), the bank or branch concerned has to be specified".
India is said to have completed talks with Switzerland for amending their bilateral tax treaty, which would pave the way for authorities here to seek details of illicit wealth stashed away by Indians in Swiss banks.

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