Investigators’ efforts to unlock the Swiss banking secrecy code in money laundering and tax evasion probes have gained momentum with India making maximum number of requests for classified tax data exchange last fiscal to the authorities of the alpine country.
STOCK MARKETS LINKS
India’s global requests for obtaining classified tax information,in the face of a number of high-profile tax evasion and scam cases,has also seen a 59 per cent jump with a total of 646 requests as compared to a total of 386 similar letters during the 2011-12 fiscal.
While India dispatched the most number of 232 requests for obtaining secret financial information under the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) to Switzerland,it sent 145 similar legal letters to Mauritius during the 2012-13 financial year.
While a huge investment into the country is routed from Mauritius,a number of high-value and criminal probes against a certain number of individuals in the country are connected to blackmoney stashed in Swiss banks.
It is important to note that Switzerland started allowing access to depositors’ personal banking and other financial information to Indian tax sleuths only since April 2010 when the existing DTAA between the two nations was revised after diligent efforts by the Union Finance Ministry in this regard.
Among the major countries to which India dispatched its secret tax and finance related queries during 2012-13 fiscal were United Arab Emirates (38),United Kingdom (26),United States of America (61),British Virgin Island (22),Cyprus
(16),Denmark (11) and Singapore (19) while a number of other nations too figured on the same list.
“This is the maximum number of legal requests that India has sent to Swiss authorities since the revision of the DTAA in 2010. The subject matter of these DTAAs and TIEAs (Tax Information Exchange Agreements) pertain to many high-profile cases which the financial enforcement agencies are probing at present,” a senior official privy to the development said.
The sources,however,refused to divulge the identities of these cases citing strict confidentiality clauses riding these tax information exchange treaties.
The Foreign Tax and Tax Reserach (FTTR) office,under the Department of Revenue in the ministry,processed these requests and sent them to the foreign countries after
collecting them from field investigation units of the I-T department and the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
India has two kinds of tax information exchange treaties with foreign nations the DTAA and the Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA) and at present there are 85 countries under this arrangement in the former category while there are 25 nations in the latter.
The other prominent countries where tax sleuths sent judicial tax information requests include Australia,Austria,Bahamas,Bahrain,Belgium,Bermuda,Bhutan,Norway,New Zealand,Oman,Phillipines,Portugal,Qatar,Russia,South Africa,Isle of Man,Gibraltar,Indonesia,Ireland,Macao,Italy,Sweden,Thailand and Turkey.
While final results have been achived in about 20 per cent of these cases other requests are under various stages of probe,the sources said.