Switzerland will provide data of Indians holding Swiss bank accounts from 2018
Switzerland has conformed to the global standards on automatic exchange of information with the signing of the declaration, India, on its part, has promised to safeguard the confidentiality of the data.
In a big step against black money hoarding, Switzerland today agreed to automatic sharing of information with India on Swiss bank accounts of Indians as of September 2018 and onwards.
However, the reports said that they will not share details about accounts held prior to that period, while the first such exchange will happen in September 2019.
In a 'Joint Declaration' for implementation of Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) signed today between India and Switzerland, it has been provided that both countries will start collecting data in accordance with the global standards in 2018 and exchange it from 2019 onwards.
While Switzerland has conformed to the global standards on automatic exchange of information with the signing of the declaration, India, on its part, has promised to safeguard the confidentiality of the data.
Describing the signing of declaration as a "big step", Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia tweeted:
2/2 The income tax deptt will be able to obtain information from accounts of all Indians stashed in Switzerland from 2018 onwards
— Dr Hasmukh Adhia (@adhia03) November 22, 2016
In a statement, the Swiss Federal Department of Finance said that the signing of the joint declaration with India confirms Switzerland's international commitment to implementing the AEOI standard.
"Switzerland is thus strengthening its network of AEOI partner states. India meets in particular the high demands in terms of adherence to the principle of speciality and the safeguarding of confidentiality for the data delivered, which are prerequisites for the introduction of the AEOI," it said.
It has been said that Switzerland has always been at the centre of the debate on black money allegedly stashed by Indians abroad, and used to be known for very strong secrecy walls till a few years ago around its banking practices.
However, the reports claim that a huge global pressure has resulted in Switzerland relenting on the tough secrecy clauses its local laws gave to the banks. Several information requests on details about Indians who had accounts in Swiss banks are still pending.
However, the disappointing point is that today's declaration does not talk about exchange of information based on stolen data or pending requests from India.
In the wake of demonetisation announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the idea of cracking down of black money, some opposition parties have been demanding that the government take action to bring back the unaccounted Indian money stashed abroad, particularly in Swiss banks.