Don't fish for account details: Swiss to India


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Jun 8, 2009
Don't fish for account details: Swiss to India

Swiss banks may have turned over client details to the US, but they have said India is not welcome there on a name-fishing expedition. “Swiss law and even OECD’s Model Tax Convention do not permit fishing expeditions, in other words, the indiscriminate trawling through bank accounts in the hope of finding something interesting. This means that India cannot simply throw its telephone book at Switzerland and ask if any of these people have a bank account here,” a top official at Swiss Bankers Association said.

The secrecy shield provided by Swiss banks have always been a big issue in India, including during the campaign for this year’s general elections, and the government recently said that it has approached Switzerland seeking details about bank accounts held by Indians there. Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee recently informed Parliament that the government was committed to unearthing black money within and outside the country. “Swiss authorities, I am told, have agreed for negotiations (on the issue)... We have already taken it (the issue of black money) not only with Swiss authorities but other nations as well,” Mukherjee said.

Last week, the US reached an agreement with Switzerland, under which top Swiss bank UBS AG turned over details of 4,450 secret accounts to the Internal Revenue Service. Asked how would India’s request be handled, especially in the backdrop of the UBS settlement, SBA’s Head of International Communications James Nason said that “the key for the exchange of information in tax matters is the Double Taxation Agreement between Switzerland and India.”

Don't fish for account details: Swiss to India

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