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Swiss authorities agree to hand over non-HSBC details

All these had been clubbed by the Swiss authorities with the HSBC cases and account details blocked even during the UPA regime.

Written by Ritu Sarin
New Delhi | November 5, 2014 3:23:02 am

One of the real breakthroughs in the high-level dialogue held between Indian officials and Swiss authorities in Berne two weeks ago was getting the Swiss to agree to segregate all other requests from India for bank account and transaction details from the HSBC bunch of cases and handing them over to New Delhi, top officials told The Indian Express.

Over the past few years, the Indian government has been dispatching a number of requests to the Swiss authorities arising from either search operations done by the Income Tax department or information received on holdings of Indians in Switzerland from the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU).

All these had been clubbed by the Swiss authorities with the HSBC cases and account details blocked even during the UPA regime.

The Indian delegation, led by revenue secretary Shaktikanta Das, have been able to impress upon their counterparts that since the remaining requests from India had their genesis in tax actions or are the subject of STRs (suspicious transaction reports) generated by the FIU, they should be replied to immediately.

“The Swiss authorities have agreed to modify their approach since this information does not have anything to do with stolen data and agreed to our request,” an official said.

Some of these cases deal with big corporate houses and businessmen and requests for banking and asset details have been pending with Switzerland, in some cases, for over five years.

Finance ministry officials said they will shortly be compiling all the pending requests sent to Switzerland and again dispatch them on the basis of the fresh agreement arrived at in Berne.

Following the meeting, a joint statement had been issued which stated that, “The Swiss authorities would assist in obtaining confirmation on genuineness of bank documents on request by the Indian side and also swiftly provide information on requests relating to non-banking information….”
The Swiss authorities have now agreed to share account details and balance sheets of those among the list of 627 who had either voluntarily declared their accounts to the tax authorities or whose consent declarations are now with the I-T department.

As reported earlier, following the data of worldwide account holders of its Geneva branch being stolen, the HSBC had itself informed its account holders of the occurrence, which, sources said, resulted in a few of them owning up to their undeclared accounts during the past two years.

Officials said that these bunch of cases along with the non-HSBC requests would total around 30 in number and this information, they expect, would be dispatched to India soon.

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