India set to seek info about specific accounts in Swiss banks

India set to seek info about specific accounts in Swiss banks

The Finance Ministry has initiated steps under which the Swiss Federal Court of Justice would be requested to ensure that information on specific accounts is provided by April 1, 2011 under the Mutual Legal Assistance Agreement, sources told PTI today.

Attorney General G E Vahanvati would be writing to the Swiss authorities to obtain information for the Foreign Tax (FT) and Tax Research (TR) Divisions of the Finance Ministry, which are investigating aspects related to Indian black money stashed in bank accounts abroad.

The sources, however, did not specify the accounts about which the details would be sought. Sources said several individuals have made investments to the tune of crores of rupees, taking advantage of the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) in various countries and the details sought from Switzerland would help agencies investigate tax evasions.

In August this year, India and Switzerland had signed a protocol to amend the existing DTAA between the two countries so as to bring under its ambit information regarding the money stashed away in banks in that country.

"Under the current DTAA between India and Switzerland, India has not been able to obtain banking information from Switzerland. The protocol now seeks to amend the Article concerning Exchange of Information to enable exchange of such information," Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had informed the Lok Sabha in a statement made in August.

Under the revised DTAA, information, which is foreseen as relevant for carrying out the provisions of the agreement or to the administration or enforcement of the domestic laws concerning taxes, can be exchanged under the pact.

Earlier, information which was relevant only for carrying out the provisions of DTAA could be exchanged. The objective of the DTAAs is to evolve an equitable basis for the allocation of the right to tax different types of incomes between the 'source' and 'residence' States, ensuring in that process tax neutrality in transactions between residents and non-residents.

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