As a part of the massive clampdown on black money initiated by PM Narendra Modi during his first term, the Swiss authorities are in the process of sharing details of at least 50 Indian nationals having accounts in Switzerland-based banks.
Officials involved in the process of mutual administrative assistance between the two countries informed that these individuals largely include businessmen associated with companies, including the dummy ones, in sectors ranging from real estate, financial services, technology and telecom to paints, home decoration, textiles, engineering goods, gems, and jewellery.
In its endeavour to shed the long-standing perception of it being a safe haven for black money, the Swiss authorities had last month, shot notices to 11 Indians holding Swiss bank accounts. It notified that they have been given one last chance to appeal against sharing of their details with India. According to the federal gazette notifications issued by the Swiss government, 50 individuals had been sent such notices till date.
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.
However, some of these notices have been sent after the preliminary appeals by the concerned clients of Swiss banks have already been rejected due to inadequate supporting facts and documents, leaving a limited chance of their further pleas getting heard, officials said.
While details of more than 100 Indians nationals have been shared in the past one year by the Swiss government with the Indian authorities, there is a high chance that a large majority of the cases currently under scrutiny would result in the administrative assistance being provided in the coming months, the officials furthered.
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.
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.