Editorial: Swiss secrets

At last, India has got first tranche of Swiss bank account details of its nationals under a new automatic information exchange pact, a major milestone in the government’s fight against black money stashed abroad. India is among 75 countries with which Switzerland’s Federal Tax Administration (FTA) has exchanged information on financial accounts within the framework of global standards on AEOI. This is the first time that India has received details from Swiss authorities under the AEOI framework, which provides for exchange of information on financial accounts, currently active as well as those accounts that were closed during 2018, the year in which the framework agreement became effective.

However, the information exchange is governed by strict confidentiality clauses, and the FTA officials refused to disclose specific details on the number of accounts or about the quantum of financial assets associated with the Indian clients of Swiss banks. The AEOI only relates to accounts that are officially in the name of Indians and they might include those used for business and other genuine purposes. Overall, the FTA has sent information on around 3.1 million financial accounts to the partner states and received information on around 2.4 million from them. The exchanged details include identification, account and financial information. These include name, address, state of residence and tax identification number, as well information concerning the financial institution, account balance and capital income

Separately, the Swiss government said in a statement that the number of countries with which the AEOI (Automatic Exchange of Information) has taken place this year is 75, out of which there was reciprocity with 63 countries. In the case of 12 countries, Switzerland received information but did not provide any, either because those countries do not yet meet the international requirements on confidentiality and data security (Belize, Bulgaria, Costa Rica, Montserrat, Romania, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Cyprus) or because they chose not to receive data (Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands). The data was collected by the FTA from around 7,500 institutions including banks, trusts and insurers. Now that India has received details of those who parked their money abroad, it should waste no time in taking action against wrong-doers.

NT Bureau