Opinion | Only for sleuths1 min read . Updated: 23 Dec 2019, 10:58 PM IST
New Delhi’s quest for money that has fled its shores must go beyond the Alpine nation, though the data turned over by Berne may help
The finance ministry is right in refusing to disclose the Swiss bank account details of Indians that are available to the government thanks to a treaty with Switzerland which has stiff confidentiality conditions. Swiss authorities had agreed to part with the information only after reviewing Indian laws on data protection and secrecy. While the data shared by them provides a money trail that can be used by Indian law enforcement agencies to prosecute offenders, it should not be thrown open to all and sundry.
As it is, data made public by the Swiss National Bank earlier this year showed Indian individuals and companies held less than $1 billion in Swiss banks, most of which can reasonably be attributed to legitimate business dealings. India is among 75 countries with which Switzerland shares information on financial accounts, and it is highly unlikely that the country once known for its secretive banking system is still a haven for tax evaders. Money held by Indians in Swiss banks has fallen by almost a tenth in the decade since 2007. New Delhi’s quest for money that has fled its shores must go beyond the Alpine nation, though the data turned over by Berne may help.