'New tax pact to help trace black money'


“Yes” was the emphatic answer of Switzerland’s Vice-President Doris Leuthard when asked whether renegotiating the treaty, which was signed in 1995, would enable India seek details of specific cases where tax evaders money was lying in Swiss banks. She said she was confident of a positive outcome from the talks in December.

“I think next year this new treaty can be accomplished,” Leuthard, who was here for an informal WTO ministerial said. Leuthard said she had “good talks with India on tax matters.”

On Swiss Bankers Association’s (SBA) stance that India was not welcome there on a name-fishing expedition, Leuthard said no country in the world would allow such an activity. “Fishing expedition is not allowed (anywhere in) the world. We have the OECD standards. We follow international rules...we do not protect crime,” Leuthard, who is also Minister of Economic Affairs, said.

Leuthard said India would have to apply through legal procedures based on the existing double taxation avoidance treaty if it “has demands” about specific cases of tax evasion.

“We already have a treaty with India. It only works if there is a concrete demand from the Indian authorities. The demand must follow principles of the treaty,” she said.

Asked why Switzerland was not entertaining India’s request when it had already given account details of a large number of people to the US government, Leuthard said: “The US had a concrete demand. Legal procedure was already underway.

These were all clients which cheated the authorities and we never cover (up) fraud.” Switzerland had last month reached an agreement with the US to give that country’s Internal Revenue Service details of 4,450 clients who Washington suspected of evading taxes.

The issue of bringing back black money stashed away in Swiss banks had become a hot topic during the Lok Sabha elections earlier this year.

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