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Switzerland ready to talk with India on black money issue, says envoy

Switzerland ready to talk with India on black money issue, says envoy

New Delhi : In the backdrop of growing concerns in India over black money stashed in foreign banks, Switzerland’s Ambassador to India Linus Von Castelmur on Thursday said that his country is ready and willing to talk to New Delhi about the ‘Automatic Information Exchange’ (AIE), but was non-committal on when it would come into being.

“We are ready to talk about the automatic information exchange. Though timeline is difficult to commit as of now, it will come,” the Ambassador said at an event at the Embassy of Switzerland here.

In recent months, Switzerland had disclosed a list of 600 names with a dozen Indians amid suspicion that their accounts in Swiss banks were being used for stashing illicit money.

Swiss banks, known for their banking secrecy practices, have come under global pressure as countries, including India, are ramping up efforts to crack down on the black money menace.

A leaked list of hundreds of Indian clients of HSBC’s Geneva branch had found its way to the Indian tax authorities, which are probing the matter.

The Narendra Modi government since its tenure began in May 2014 pledged to crack down on unaccounted wealth held by Indians abroad. Germany, France, Switzerland, Singapore, Mauritius and the British Virgin Islands are among those that are providing information, or will soon start doing so, on assets held by Indians.

“In 2017-18, we will need a kind of bilateral arrangement between the two countries, where we would commit to proceed to information exchange. However, when it will happen, we don’t know. Both the ministries are working on that and their cooperation is good,” Ambassador Linus Von Castelmur added.

The envoy said India’s Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is happy with the cooperation he is getting from the Swiss government.

“We have a legal assistance treaty with India on administrative affairs and penal affairs. These treaties are in place, and if needed, this cooperation will continue on tax money from India in Switzerland. With the new system of AIE (Automatic Information Exchange), these cases will be more and more seldom.” (ANI)