Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday described the reported move of Swiss authorities to share the names of Indian individuals and entities suspected to hold untaxed money in Swiss banks as a “significant development which will greatly benefit the newly formed SIT”.
“We welcome the development and want to be very proactive on the issue of disclosures and return of money held abroad,” Jaitley told The Indian Express.
The minister clarified that he had himself not interacted with Swiss authorities on the subject, and declined to comment on whether any finance ministry official might have done so after the NDA government took charge.
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Top officials in the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) told The Indian Express that the Swiss move, though not yet communicated officially, was coming through the “spontaneous” route, and not the “demand” route.
The officials were referring to the correspondence former finance minister P Chidambaram had had with his counterpart in Switzerland, in which he had sought details on HSBC account holders in Geneva. The Swiss had declined to assist, saying the data was too old.
CBDT officials said that while the setting up of the SIT was only one part of the government’s efforts, the “competent authority” in India, who works in the foreign taxation division of the finance ministry, was making continuous efforts for a useful exchange of banking intelligence.
“If these reports from Zurich are true, then it is a response to such efforts being made by India,” a top official said.