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India gets first list of Swiss accounts

India is among the 75 countries that have received the first set of 31 lakh Swiss bank accounts. The deal to provide bank account details are part of Switzerland’s endeavour to wriggle out of the list of global tax havens.

Earlier, Berne would refuse to honour requests from host countries that suspected their nationals had opened Swiss bank accounts to deposit their purloined wealth.

The current lot of accounts deal with those that were active as well as closed in 2018. The exchanged details include identification, account and financial information. These include name, address, state of residence and tax identification number, as well information concerning the financial institution, account balance and capital income.
Indian tax authorities believe much of the information will be of academic importance since many with ill-gotten wealth would have closed their accounts after the international environment started turning sour on Switzerland’s banking laws.

They say most of the accounts are of non-resident Indian businessmen who have now settled in South-East Asia, the US, the UK and some African and South American countries and engaged in auto components, chemicals, textiles, real estate, diamond and jewellery and steel sectors.

addition, India and Switzerland are collaborating on 100 accounts that were closed before 2018. Switzerland’s Federal Tax Administration (FTA) has sent the first dossier containing the information about Indian account holders under an Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) pact.

“The exchanged information allows the cantonal tax authorities to verify whether taxpayers have correctly declared their financial accounts abroad in their tax returns,”.

The exchange of information is girded by a tough secrecy clause that prohibits the Swiss FTA as well as recipients to disclose the number of accounts or the amount of financial assets held by Indians. The Swiss have transferred account details only of those countries that international requirements on confidentiality and data security.

Separately, the Swiss government said in a statement that the number of countries with which the AEOI has taken place this year is 75, of which there was reciprocity with 63 countries. Eight countries did not make the cut because of this stipulation while four chose not to receive any data.

According to experts, the data received by India can be quite useful for establishing a strong prosecution case against those who have any unaccounted wealth, as it provides entire details of deposits and transfers as well as of all earnings, including through investments in securities and other assets.

75 nations benefit

75 nations with which info exchange took place
3.1m accounts about which info sent to partner states
7,500 institutions from which data collected by Swiss