In a significant move to share financial information with India, the Swiss authorities have shot notices to 11 Indians holding Swiss bank accounts. The notice sent by Swiss authorities to Indian clients of Switzerland-based banks last week notifies that they have been given one last chance to appeal against sharing of their details with India. Since March, 25 individuals have been sent such notices.
In these notices, the individuals or their authorised representatives have been asked to file their appeals, if any, within 30 days. They have to submit necessary documentary proof to support their case against providing ‘administrative assistance’ to India, which broadly means sharing of their banking and other financial details.
After assuming office in 2014, the Modi government had taken various steps to curb black money. As a part of this initiative, Switzerland had in 2017, ratified automatic exchange of financial account information with India which would facilitate immediate sharing of details about suspected black money. Adopting the Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) – a global convention on tax matters – the Swiss Federal Council had said that the implementation was planned for 2018 and the first set of data would be exchanged in 2019.
A detailed analysis of the notices issued by the Federal Tax Administration, Switzerland government’s nodal department for sharing of information on foreign clients of Swiss banks, shows that the Swiss government has stepped up its efforts in sharing such details with a number of countries in the recent months, but the surge in India-related cases is noticeable in the past few weeks.
Though the gazette notifications of the Swiss government has redacted full names for several of them while making public only their initials beside the nationality and the dates of birth.
The two Indians whose names have been mentioned in full are Krishna Bhagwan Ramchand (born in May 1949) and Kalpesh Harshad Kinariwala (born in September 1972). However, no further details have been disclosed about them as well.
The Indian nationals with redacted names include Mrs A S B K (born November 24, 1944), Mr A B K I (born July 9, 1944), Mrs P A S (born November 2, 1983), Mrs R A S (born November 22, 1973), Mr A P S (born November 27, 1944), Mrs A D S (born August 14, 1949), Mr M L A (born May 20, 1935), Mr N M A (born February 21, 1968) and Mr M M A (June 27, 1973).
Moreover, in March, Switzerland had issued such notices to Mumbai-based Geodesic Ltd and its three directors (Prashant Sharad Mulekar, Pankajkumar Onkar Srivastava and Kiran Kulkarni), as also to Chennai-based Aadhi Enterprises Pvt Ltd, who are being probed by the Indian authorities for alleged money laundering and other financial irregularities.
Earlier, the Swiss banks were widely known as an alleged safe haven for black money. Since Modi came to power, money parked by Indians in Swiss banks started reducing drastically.
According to data published by the Swiss National Bank (SNB) in 2017, the total funds held by Indians with Swiss banks in 2016 stood at a record low of 676 million CHF (Swiss francs), which was about Rs 4,500 crore.
In 2015, the total funds held by Indians with Swiss banks stood at CHF 1,206.71 million. In the year 2014, the total funds held by Indians with Swiss banks stood at CHF 1,814 million. 2017 was the third straight year of substantial decline of funds held by Indians with Swiss banks.
The funds held by Indians with Swiss banks stood at a record high of CHF 6.5 billion (Rs 23,000 crore) at 2006-end. In about a decade it went down to almost one-tenth.