India wants G-20 nations to share past banking,tax information

Stressing that the era of banking secrecy laws was over, Department of Economic Affairs Secretary R Gopalan said it was vital to build a consensus on sharing of past banking data as it would help in investigation of earlier cases of tax evasion.

"This is essential, if the spirit of the G-20 London Summit that 'the era of bank secrecy is over' is to be respected," he said on the occasion of the signature ceremony of the Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters last night.

Gopalan, who is here as part of the official delegation to the G-20 Summit, also said that India would be signing the convention, along with with China and Saudi Arabia.
In order to check the menace of tax evasion and illicit flows of capital, he said, India has already entered into 58 agreements for sharing of tax information.

During his intervention at the summit yesterday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said tax evasion and illicit flows were posing serious problems and wanted the G-20 to send a strong message to curb such activity.

"G-20 countries should take the lead in agreeing to automatic exchange of tax-related information with each other, irrespective of artificial distinctions such as past or present, for tax evasion or tax fraud, in the spirit of our London Summit that 'the era of bank secrecy is over'," he had said. Noting that tax evasion and illicit flows were serious problems, Gopalan said during the last two years, India has negotiated 19 new Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements and 17 new Tax Information Exchange Agreements.
In addition, 22 existing Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements have been renegotiated, he added.

"All these 58 agreements provide for tax information exchange according to international standards," he said.

Among the G-20 countries, which account for 85 per cent of the world's output, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Russia and Turkey signed the Convention during the Cannes Summit.

France, Italy, Korea, Mexico, UK and US had signed the Convention earlier.

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