Home >Politics >Policy >Black money: RBI wants banks to share details with SIT

Mumbai/New Delhi: The hunt for black money stashed away by Indians in Swiss banks intensified on Monday with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) instructing domestic banks to share information with the special investigation team (SIT) to track black money and finance minister Arun Jaitley seeking details about Swiss bank accounts from the country’s government.

In response, the European nation’s finance ministry said in a statement released through its embassy in New Delhi that “Switzerland understands and shares India’s wish to fight tax evasion and is committed to complying with the relating international standards".

The RBI on Monday asked banks to share necessary information with the special investigation team (SIT) set up by the government to investigate black or unaccounted for money.

“All the banks and financial institutions are advised to ensure that information/documents required by the SIT are made available as and when required," RBI said in a notification.

The government formed the SIT in May following a directive from the apex court.

The SIT, headed by retired Supreme Court judge M.B. Shah, as ordered by the court, will also include the revenue secretary, directors of the Central Bureau of Investigation, the Intelligence Bureau, Research and Analysis Wing and the Enforcement Directorate, chairman of the Central Board of Direct Taxes, and a deputy governor of the RBI.

The central bank’s directive came on a day Jaitley said his government was writing to Swiss authorities asking them to speed up the process of sending over information on Indians who have untaxed money in Swiss bank accounts.

Jaitley was reacting to a Press Trust of India report, which quoted an unnamed Swiss official as saying the government of Switzerland is willing to share the account details of Indians who have Swiss bank deposits.

Jaitley said New Delhi has not received any official communication from Switzerland but is hopeful that cooperation between the two countries will bear results.

It is, however, not clear if the Swiss government had agreed to share information on the so-called HSBC list—700 Indian names figuring in an HSBC Holdings Plc list that was made available to India by the French government last year.

India wants Switzerland to provide information on all 700 Indian citizens mentioned in the list who allegedly hold HSBC bank accounts in Geneva.

But Switzerland characterises this information as stolen data and says it is not bound to share it with India under Section 26 of the double taxation avoidance convention between the two countries.

However, last month, Switzerland, among the world’s biggest offshore financial centres, joined 47 countries, including India, in agreeing on steps against global tax evasion.

The ‘Declaration on Automatic Exchange of Information in Tax Matters—an initiative of the world’s wealthiest nations —commits those who endorse it to share information on taxpayers’ bank balances, dividends, interest incomes and sales proceeds used to calculate capital gains tax.

In its statement released on Monday, Switzerland said “no official meeting" has taken place between the two countries on administrative assistance in tax matters since February.

“Since a high-level Swiss delegation met with its India counterparts in New Delhi in February 2014, no further official meeting has taken place. There is no new development to be reported," Switzerland’s finance ministry statement said.

The ministry said, “Switzerland is actively taking part in international efforts aimed at better combating tax fraud and evasion, such as the development of a worldwide standard for automatic exchange of information."

“Like India, Switzerland has endorsed the declaration on automatic exchange of information published by the OECD on the occasion of its annual ministerial council meeting in Paris on 6-7 May 2014. Switzerland is committed to resolving any open question with India and trusts that India shares its understanding that any solution can only be found within the established national and international legal frameworks," the ministry added.

PTI contributed to this story.

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