No black money from India to be allowed in Swiss banks

The Swiss government will next year share with New Delhi the first cache of information on money stashed by Indian citizens in the Switzerland banks. Reuters file photo

The Swiss government on Friday assured New Delhi that it would not allow black money from India to be stashed in the banks in Switzerland.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Swiss counterpart Ignazio Cassis met in New Delhi on Friday. They discussed modalities for activating the “Automatic Exchange of Information” for tax purposes – an arrangement New Delhi and Bern agreed upon last year for sharing of information on the accounts held by Indian citizens in the banks in Switzerland, the ministry of external affairs stated after the meeting.

The Swiss government will next year share with New Delhi the first cache of information on money stashed by Indian citizens in the Switzerland banks.

The information Swiss government will share with New Delhi in September 2019, however, will be limited to the deposits made by Indian citizens from January 1 to December 31, 2018, as the agreement inked by the two governments in December 2017 does not have any provision for retrospective applicability.

Cassis, who heads the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of the Swiss Confederation, on Friday assured Sushma that Switzerland's “financial centre” was “beyond reproach” and “undeclared assets” would “not be tolerated” in the accounts held in the banks of the East European country.

The assurance from the Swiss government came close on the heels of a war of words between the BJP-led government and the Opposition Congress on the quantum of money being deposited by Indian citizens in the Switzerland banks.

Piyush Goyal, who is currently holding the finance portfolio in Modi government, told the Rajya Sabha that deposits by citizens of India in the banks in Switzerland declined 34.5 % in 2017 from a year ago and by 80 % since 2013. He sought to refute the allegation by Congress president Rahul Gandhi that “black money” deposits in the banks in Switzerland had increased. Goyal's statement was contradicted by the Congress, which cited a report by Swiss National Bank to claim that deposits by Indian citizens in the banks in Switzerland had gone up by 50%.

Sushma and Cassis on Friday reviewed the progress on Trade and Economic Partnership Agreement, which was being currently negotiated by India and the European Free Trade Area countries. They reiterated their strong commitment to early finalization of the agreement while showing flexibility on each other's concerns, according to a press release issued by the MEA.

India-Switzerland annual bilateral trade reached $20 billion last financial year.

Sushma and Cassis took stock of progress made in key areas, like trade and investment, education, information technology and tourism. They noted that closer cooperation in the areas of skill development, renewable energy, traditional Indian medicine and climate change had the potential of mutual benefit and positive contribution at the global level, the MEA stated.

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No black money from India to be allowed in Swiss banks

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