Government on Friday said it was making all efforts to procure the list of illegal bank account holders in Switzerland and was collecting evidence in this regard.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley also said in Lok Sabha that India was in the process of communication with the Swiss authorities and would sign a pact which was in the best interest of the country within the parameters of Swiss laws.
The Minister informed the House that Swiss authorities have raised some legal issues after India has written to it to provide a list of illegal bank account holders.
“We are in the process of communication with the Swiss authorities, and whatever is the best agreement, within the parameters of their law, we are going to enter into,” he said replying to a supplementary on illegal Swiss bank accounts.
Jaitley said the treaty between India and Switzerland on sharing of information on illegal bank account holders was of future and prospective in nature and that is why the European country was not cooperating on the previous lists of such account holders.
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“The treaty between India and Switzerland is that of the future and prospective in nature and that is why they will not cooperate on the names previously given. But we will make all effort with the Swiss authority in this regard. Indian government is taking all efforts to get
evidence required to support the list,” he said.
Jaitley said India had received a list of 700 illegal Swiss bank account holders, which was procured from the French government on the precondition that the names would be made public.
India had earlier received another such list from Liechtenstein bank following which the government had initiated the process of identifying Indians, he said.
Income tax and criminal proceedings have been initiated against all such persons identified, Jaitley said.
The Finance Minister said the list of 700 illegal Indian Swiss bank account holders was received from the French government which it had received from the HSBC bank data.
“When the French government provided it to the Indian government, an undertaking was taken from India at that time. The French government gave the list with the pre-condition that the names in the list will not be made public.
“We have made an attempt to identify the names,” he said adding that government has initiated the tax proceedings against those who have been identified in the country.
Highlighting the Special Investigative Team, set up by the Narendra Modi government immediately after coming to power, Jaitley said it wants to look into these issues and whatever details it has sought, all details will be provided to it.
Referring to a news report that said Switzerland was providing India a list of illegal account holders in Swiss banks, he said the government had written to Swiss authorities which in turn said they did not have a separate list.
“Now, when we have sought proof from Switzerland, they have raised some legal issues,” he said, adding the present Government has “nothing to hide”.
The Minister said ever since the present Government came to power, it has taken it up the issue with Swiss authorities with intensity.
“There is a pre-existing arrangement with Switzerland with effect from 2011. Article 26 of it regulates the exchange of information as far as India and Switzerland are concerned.
“These agreements are entered into keeping the limitations of the Swiss law in mind. Swiss law, in this matter, is also an evolving process. We are keeping a very close eye on further changes, which are being discussed in that country, and whatever the best result in India’s interest that we will get the information,” he said.
Jaitley also said that under the law, RBI’s permission is required to maintain an account abroad.
He said the government is seeking information on such accounts, which people have surreptitiously opened without RBI’s permission and are thus illegal.
“It is with regard to these accounts, which are being illegally kept that we are seeking cooperation because evidence is available in a foreign soil and evidence can come to us only with the cooperation of the country where the account exists,” he said.