Breaking its silence on the black money issue, the Swiss government on Wednesday dropped a bombshell saying that it is ready to share list of tax-evaders with India fast.
Swiss ambassador to India Phillipe Welti on Wednesday told Headlines Today, “We don’t need the account number of the suspect Indians. Just give us the name. We can share the data fast.”
This is a significant statement considering that the government has been hiding behind the procedural problems in seeking the list of Indians from Switzerland.
“Indian assets worth at least $two billion are parked in Swiss banks, according to our figures,” the envoy told Foreign Affairs Editor Saurabh Shukla.
The envoy’s revelations come ahead of President Pratibha Patil’s visit to Switzerland on October 3-4.
Significantly, he said, the Swiss authorities have relaxed norms, and hence, only the name is required. “You don’t need the account number. Even if you have the name, this is sufficient,” he added.
But he said the political will is required by India. “We are ready to give names.”
Responding to a question on the Double-Taxation Avoidance Treaty Ratification done by both Parliament, the envoy said under the Swiss law a referendum is required for the treaty to come into force but since no demand has been received, the decks are clear for the exchange of data. “Now we can exchange details after exchanging instruments of the treaty after October 7,” he said.
Welti also indicated that if India put diplomatic pressure or presented individual cases, the Swiss government can provide data even without the treaty. “The necessary tools are there. It depends on the political will of the Indian government,” he said.
“It is for the Indian government to make a case that they want the details of tax evasion,” he said.
In another revelation, he said no request for sharing of data has been received so far from the Indian government.
“If they submit the request, we will be willing to share. I haven’t seen the request going through me,” Welti concluded.
Senior BJP leader Balbir Punj said the party would take up the issue and said that following the envoy’s statement the Indian government should forward the names of all the members of Parliament and ministers to the Swiss government to ascertain if they had accounts in Swiss banks.