Govt to hold talks with Swiss officials to check graft

Govt to hold talks with Swiss officials to check graft

India to follow OECD codes

“We are pursuing (the issue) with the Swiss authorities. After our persuasion, they have agreed to discuss and begin negotiations on the amendment of Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement (ADTA),” Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said at panel discussion organised by a private TV channel.

“The first round of talks will take place some time in December,” he said.

While asserting that India is aware of the Swiss banking laws, which prohibit random inquiry about customers’ banking details, Mukherjee said the government would pursue the matter on the basis of specific information to help tax authorities nail defaulters.

The proposed negotiations would be based on the exchange of information, he said.
After India appealed to the Swiss authorities to provide assistance in tracking unaccounted money, they suggested that India should enter into negotiations for the amendment of the ADTA, Mukherjee said.

While holding talks with the Swiss authorities, India would follow the codes prescribed by the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) with respect to taxation and exchange of information, he said. The issue of bringing back the alleged black money stashed away in Swiss banks had become a hot topic during the Lok Sabha elections earlier this year.

Besides, the Supreme Court is also hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) accusing the government of inaction in bringing the money back to India. The PIL was filed by former law minister and eminent jurist Ram Jethmalani and five others seeking a direction to the government to take action to bring back around Rs 70 lakh crore lying in foreign banks.

Earlier in May, the government filed an affidavit in the case on the action taken by it on the issue. Late in July, the prime minister and the finance minister informed Parliament that they had begun the process to bring back the black money belonging to Indians in Swiss banks. The Swiss banking law, which protects the secrecy of banking details of its customers, does not allow random inquiry about its clients.

But after the OECD countries took up the matter with the Swiss banks to cooperate in getting the details of people who have stashed away unaccounted money through tax evasion, a code was evolved.

Under the code, the Swiss banks have agreed to share information with the authorities only on a specific list of people  suspected to have committed tax evasion.  Recently, the Swiss banks shared banking details of some people based on a list prepared by the US authorities.

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